Monday, July 15, 2013

Digital Media Labs

The best session that I attended was a preconference on digital media labs.  I took eight! pages of notes, that I will try to summarize here.

Digital media labs can be used to create videos and music, but also to self-publish ebooks, create animation, and digitize photos/slides/VHS tapes.  Presenters from five libraries all commented that they were surprised to find the most popular activity is converting VHS tapes to DVD!  Use also skewed much older than they predicted:  while teens like creating videos and music, seniors like digitizing old photos, and many adults just want to update their skills for the job market.  They gave five reasons for starting a digital media lab:

  1. Support digital literacy in the community.  Support kids' homework projects and help job-seekers update their skills.
  2. Support local businesses (e.g. business owners who want to create promotional videos).
  3. Create community: digital media labs encourage people to work together.
  4. Increase civic engagement.  Libraries usually distribute outside content to their communities.  We need to be distributing community content to the outside world.
  5. Share library projects (e.g. broadcast storytimes and programs on our website).
The best thing about digital media is that it's scalable.  You can fit a lab into a small space or unused closet.  A lot of software is available for free.  

Here are a few ideas I thought we could try for little or no money, without even having a separate lab space:
  • Install Scratch, free animation software, on the YS computers, so kids can learn to create their own animation and online games.
  • Add a photo scanner to our microfilm machine, so patrons can scan old photos and slides and save onto a USB drive.
  • Install Gimp, free photo-editing software, on the Adult computers, so patrons can edit the photos they've scanned in.  They can also learn Gimp and install it at home if they like it.
  • Purchase a $200 VHS-to-DVD converter for patrons.
There are lots more ideas that are easy to implement!  I can't wait to try some of them.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Bigger Library Picture

I really enjoyed my visit to the ALA Conference. It gave me an opportunity to see the bigger library picture and all the products and services that libraries have to choose from . Vendors spoke about and demonstrated many products incluing adhesive protector covers for paperbacks,specialized library furniture and a variety of RFID systems. There was even a 3-D copying machine that was creating a foam copy of the Stanly Cup.
I spoke with a childrens' book author who explained to me that although she writes the story, she has no input into the illustrations used to tell her story. The publisher matches up the illustrator once they recieve the story.  It was interesting to hear authors speak about their process. A cookbook author signing his BBQ cookbook also gave out samples of his food. Giada DeLaurentis spoke about her inspiration for writing her upcoming young adult series on travel and food. She was very personable and equally passionate about her subject matter.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

ALA Conference Experience

Wow - I never realized how many independent publishers, distributers, and manufacturers of library products would be represented at the conference.  From the ladies who presented the mess-free sandbox for children, to the gentleman distributing DVDs for the understanding of Islam, to the folks showing systems for automated check-ins, to the woman who demonstrated the process of plastic coating paperbacks... there was something to learn at every turn.  I was pleased to obtain a copy of the children's book "I Have A Dream"  and fortunate to have the illustrator Kadir Nelson sign it. My other favorite souvenir - a pin that shows an old card catalogue drawer captioned "never forget!" 

Holy Smokes!!!

I was overwhelmed at the size of this convention! I was lucky enough to be able to use a cart and drive myself around.
So many of the booths were for people who could actually make financial decisions ( not me), so they weren't of interest to me.
I was interested in the Baker and Taylor ebooks, and listened to the salesman, but realized that theirs were really no better that what we use now.
I talked for a while with a president of a small publishing house that publishes translated fiction. I asked him how he chose his titles, and was surprised to find out that he is a translator himself.  He has so many friends that are translators that he asks them for recommendations of books popular in different countries. He must have artist friends too, because all his editions have beautiful woodcuts for their cover art.
There were so many book giveaways, but you never could tell if you were standing in line for a free book or an autograph!
All in all it was really a good experience. Crowded and crazy but good!
Mary Martinec

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 Steps to a Better Library Interior

This session gave me a lot of great ideas, not just for our lobby redesign, but for the whole building!  Here are some of the ideas I took away.  My thoughts about what I learned are in parentheses.

  1. First impressions matter.  Take a step back and see your space with your customers' eyes.  (We've talked about having people who have never been in our building walk through it and give their impressions.)
  2. Pretend everything is emptied from your building.  What would you put back?
  3. Avoid mismatched signage, colors, etc.  Don't camouflage by making everything exciting and colorful: pick one or two things to highlight.
  4. UNCLUTTER desktops!  Creating a sign to avoid repeated interactions is not good:  we WANT interactions.  (We're guilty of cluttered desktops!)
  5. Use zoning to help your patrons understand the purpose of a space.  Only put comfortable lounge seating in areas where you want them to gather and chat, NOT in quiet spaces.  (Should we remove the lounge seating in the 2nd floor bay window to discourage congregating?) 
  6. Lighting is very important to how we perceive space.
  7. Careful reorientation or lowering the height of stacks can help people move through the space and see the boundaries.  (Would shorter new book shelving in our lobby help make the area feel larger?)
  8. Remove walls and fill with glass, or use half walls, with or without glass above.  Tall walls prevent people from seeing that there is another department available to them.  (Maybe we should do this with the wall between the lobby and Youth Services?  Wall on bottom half and glass on top, for a sound barrier?)
Slides from the session are available here:  Scroll to the comments section for the link to slides.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on some of these ideas.  Post them in the comments!


A Few Workshops

I was fortunate to be able to attend the whole conference, both exhibits and programs.  Here are some highlights from a few of the programs I attended.

"Are We Having Fun Yet? Energizing Staff Development"
This quick program talking reminded everyone to think like a kid!  They gave ideas for lots of hands-on activities with defined time-limits.  They also reminded us that everyone learns differently, so it's important to consider different learning styles.  Slides for this session are at

Website Design
I attended two sessions on website design: one on using open source software like WordPress or Drupal, and one about how to do usability testing with patrons, to see how easy it is to use your website.  Both of these will be useful for us in the next year or so when we start to look at redesigning our site.

"Reference Services in an Ever-Shrinking Print Environment"
These 3 speakers each offered a different perspective.  The first speaker encouraged us to really examine how much use our reference materials are getting.  In his library, 65% had NEVER checked out.  They weeded some, started putting some on face-out displays, and put a great deal in the circulating collections, where patrons would find them.  Since circulating, they have lost only 3 reference books, which is a much lower rate than the rest of the collection.

The second speaker spoke about going Dewey Free, and I didn't learn anything I hadn't already heard.

The third speaker works for Question Point, an online reference service where patrons can get chat reference help 24/7.  The librarians at QP are answering questions from home with no print reference sources, only what they can find on the caller's home library website.  In order to help them help our patrons, she recommended posting assistance on our website about preferred browsers, how to get a new PIN, etc.

I'll post more about some other fun sessions in separate posts.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Visit to the ALA Exhibit Hall

Rebecca Bartlett

Liz Choate and I took the Metra into Chicago, and then caught the conference shuttle at the W Chicago City Center hotel, which was an adventure in itself!  Here are some of the vendors I saw at the Exhibit Hall:

E-Resources vendors: Library Ideas (Freading and Freegal), Midwest Tape (Hoopla), OverDrive (Media on Demand), 3M (3M Cloud Reader) - I told Jim at Library Ideas that we just launched Freading, it is easy to use and patrons like it!  Liz and I stopped by the Midwest Tape booth and saw a demo of Hoopla, which is out of beta testing and launching to public libraries in July 2013.  OverDrive staff gave us a demo of the new video streaming service launching in July 2013. 

RFID and locker vendors: Bibliotheca, m.k. Sorting Systems, 3M, LEID Products - Dan and Dustin from Bibliotheca gave me a demo of the MyCommunity kiosk.  They did not have their Automated Materials Handler machine with them, but showed me pictures of the different sizes (200, 250, 300, etc.).  We talked about the recent controversy at the Urbana Free Library, one of their RFID customers.  Nick from 3M gave me a demo of the self-check machines and Automated Materials Handler.  I stopped by LEID Products to see their DVD dispenser.  Barrington Area Library is their customer, so we will get to see their lockers when we visit during the In-Service Day.

Integrated Library System vendors: Innovative (Sierra), Polaris - Liz and I watched a demo of the staff module for Sierra, which has an improved keyword search from Millennium.  Liz, Rebecca Skirvin and I spoke to staff at Polaris about their Community module, which integrates subject bibliographies and current events!                          
ALA Membership Pavilion - I spoke with ALA volunteers and picked up my ALA Member and ALA First-Time Member ribbons for my name badge.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Taking It All In

I was really looking forward to ALA! In fact, I made posts on Twitter and Facebook about how excited I was. I mentioned my excitement to my husband and he said, "What about Book of Mormon?" (Which we were seeing that weekend.) Um, oops? ;) (Book of Mormon was great, in case you were wondering.) I went prepared with a list of exhibitor booths that I wanted to stop at. I made a list of the authors that I so hoped to squeeze time in to have them sign a book for me. I was excited about free books and swag. What happened when I stepped onto the exhibitor floor? I was overwhelmed. I wanted to go everywhere at once and was disappointed that I didn't have more time. Most importantly, I felt like I belonged.

Amanda and I visited countless booths and I am still processing the day but I'll share my most memorable moments:
  • I may or may not have taken a picture of Ethan Long, author of Up, Tall and High! without him knowing.
  • Amanda and I waited in line to meet Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, author and illustrator of Extra Yarn, respectively. Jon Klassen is also the author and illustrator of the 2013 Caldecott winning picture book This Is Not My Hat. Talk about being star struck! We both had our books signed and we had a good laugh with Jon and Mac. We walked away with smiles across our faces and red cheeks hoping we just didn't embarass ourselves too much. (Sorry Amanda!)
  • Exhibitors announcing free books or even better, free, authographed by the author books? Yes, please! I also managed to snag some cool buttons and pins and of course, pens.
  • Visiting the Evanced area and seeing a demo of both Spaces and Sign-up. Wow! What a remarkable difference on both the staff and patrons' side. If I could quickly sum-up the difference between the old and new platforms, it would be that it seemed as though the old Evanced was really just a beta and the new Evanced is what you would expect to see from a company that is looking to be considered innovative. In Sign-up, you can create templates so you don't have to copy and paste your information every time you're creating a new event, which will help immensely with entering the storytimes. You can even embed videos, which I think would be great to use for promoting performers. I was also intrigued by Dibs! which uses a QR code which you post outside study rooms in the library so patrons can scan them with their smart phones and tablets and reserve a study room. They could even do it from home. I know that is something that I would use when going to a library to do homework!
  • Findaway World, creators of the Playaway Views that have been so popular with our patrons, also make Playaway bookpacks, which are kits that offer collections of books on audio all in one player. Patti selects our kits and she was excited to hear that I grabbed information for her.
At the end of the day, I was so happy that I was able to attend. I've been working in a public library for over 2.5 years now and I just passed my 1 year mark at La Grange Public Library. Each day brings something new for me to get excited about. When I went to ALA, I was given countless things to get excited about, including being surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of people just like me that love their job and are excited to see the future of libraries where innovation and the bringing together of the communtiy meet to offer services that librarians in the field 25 years ago could probably never imagine.

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity,

Rachael Dabkey

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ALA Conference 2013 Leslie Hartoonian

Giada de Laurentis: Speaking about her new young adult series.
This series draws on her childhood of being surrounded by stories, culture and food. They are adventure stories that will be set in different counties, 2 in the fall another 2 in 2014. At Q & A someone asked her favorite cookbooks, they were Ina Garden and Martha Stewart.

In this main area we were also able to see Temple Grandin signing books. Amazing woman and story and was thrilled just to see her in person. 

  1. Demco: furniture samples and also on display was an Automated Materials Handling System. This is used with RFID tags for automated returns. I know this was in some of the remodel plans for the library, nice to see how compact it can be.
  2. Inclentive: samples of RFID tags they make were on display.
  3. STACK MAP: Technology that works with the catalog to show an instant map of where the item is located in the library.
  4. Kapco: Company that has protective coverings and reinforced bindings for libraries. (Seemed labor intensive and expensive.)
  5. Innovative: On display screens of the new system.
  6. RAILS : stopped off here.
  7. Cooking stage: Where there is smoke there is fire. Signing and samples BBQ and smoking cookbook.
  8. Ingram/Baker and Taylor walked through these distributors areas.
  9. Many publishers booths!

Thanks for the opportunity.
Leslie Hartoonian

Adventures in the Exhibit Hall - Anne

I explored the ALA exhibits on Saturday, and I was trying to absorb everything I could. The night of, I felt rather exhausted. Now that I am back at work, I feel completely re-energized and excited about the future of libraries.

Here are a couple of things I learned about:  

·         This awesome story map from California Libraries is incredibly helpful for strategic planning: as well as findings from Pew Internet:

·         I was psyched that the ILS vendors I visited were integrating their catalogs directly with various kinds of e-books (3M, OverDrive, and Baker & Taylor’s e-books) to make it easier for patrons to see these electronic resources with less clicks and confusion.

·         Evanced's new software Spaces and SignUp give what we currently have a major face-lift.  The interface looks much better and it moves much more seamlessly from our calendar to the room registration system. It allows patrons to reserve rooms online and not have to call the library. We just go in and approve a patron's or groups request. How easy is that!

·         I watched a demonstration from 3M and thought it was interesting how they have a private cloud and a consortium cloud. From what I gathered, it might allow our patrons to gain access to our materials first. I also liked that patrons could take notes in library e-books. I love to highlight e-books. Each patron’s notes would be saved on his or her private account and not shared with the public. With 3M, libraries own the e-books, and I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

·         I talked to a representative at Midwest Tape about Hoopla. I liked that it looked like an Apple product and the system worked similar to Netflix. The library does not own the items. The library determines how much money they would like to spend or the number of circs. that they allow. It had a token system similar to other sites we are using. You can download a trial app of it.

·         I looked at early learning spaces for Caroline and found this cool company called Burgeon Group from Portland, Oregon. They customize pieces or you can use what they have.  It was like having something from a children’s museum in the library.

·         I met the children’s blogger, Mel, from Mel’sDesk during the poster sessions, and I talked to her about how to go about incorporating literacy messages into storytimes after the release of Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2). Her handout is at the bottom of this link:

·         I discovered that New York Public Library is working with its local schools to share materials: and about how it is important for public libraries to reach out administrators and ask what we can do to help with Common Core implementation.

·          American Association of School Librarians comes out with lists of best websites and apps and puts them on the web. I learned this from the ALA Cognotes that they handed out. I can't wait to look over these with our school librarians and staff.

·         I scowered children’s book vendors to find nonfiction books that would help fill in some of our gaps in that section.

·         The list goes on…

I’m looking forward to future conferences. I remember reading the ALA Cognotes that they passed out about what was happening that day at the conference on the el ride home and I was bummed I didn’t get to see the digital printer demonstrations or go to the gaming pavilion, amongst other things…  It is hard to do it all. I’m glad I hit a number of the places I wanted to go to.

I thoroughly enjoyed running into so many library staff, librarians, and professors that I knew in the field. I asked each person what they were excited about seeing at the conference and I listened to a variety of responses. It allowed me to figure out what I wanted to do next and what they were passionate about at the moment!  I also had a lot of fun side-conversations with other attendees whether it was when I was resting my feet at a stage or standing in a line to go to the bathroom.

The most helpful thing I did was print out a map of the exhibit hall ahead of time. I circled the booths that I wanted to visit and wrote next to each one why I was planning on seeing it. This saved me time and energy from traipsing around without knowing where I was going.

The exhibits can be loud and hectic. My resting spot away from the crowds was the What’s Cooking Stage. I had a blast picking up new cooking techniques and now I really want to try canning and preserving after hearing Sherri Brooks Vinton talk about her book. I'm looking forward to checking it out at the library!

Thank you for this great opportunity!

Anne Bensfield
Youth Services Librarian

ALA 2013

Hi all!
I went to the exhibits on Monday with Rachael and it was my first time at ALA. It was pretty exciting to walk around and see how much there was to look at, and to be able to recognize all the different publishers or vendors that we've worked with/ordered from on some level.The highlight of the day was meeting two of my childrens literary idols, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Talk about geeking out!! I couldn't stop smiling, and I'm sure I looked like a creep, but I was so excited to meet them and talk to them! I got an autographed copy of their book, "Extra Yarn" along with a picture with them. Some of the author lines were pretty epic.

Along with some free books and a Yoda pin, I tried to pick up a handful book discussion guides that we might be able to use for future book discussions, and well as some stuff on graphic novels. Most of the information I picked up was for Multicultural, Bilingual, and Spanish books for kids. When we start working on expanding and repaming our Spanish collection in Youth Services, I think Libros Books ( is something we should definitely consider! They work with publishers directly in Mexico, so they are able to provide us with a large selection of books, either bilingual or originally in Spanish, that would be compeltely unavailable for us to order otherwise.

Hope everyone else also had a good time. Thanks!
~Amanda Lopez