Thank you libraries & librarians!

I was hoping to write a simple post about library technology, but then I woke this morning to the news about Las Vegas. This is not going to be a political post. That is not the focus of this blog. This post is a thank you.  A thank you to all the librarians who work tirelessly to make sure that their library remains a haven in chaos, a place to get information when people are lost, and an access point to services they might not otherwise have (e.g. internet).

I took a break in the middle of last month because I was helping some of my family evacuate from South Florida to Durham to escape Irma. Many were able to leave, and for that I know I am fortunate. However, my father, who manages an airport, was not. It was stressful.  In the midst of this, I was no in the mindset to write another emergency resources post.

While I was focused on family, so many libraries were creating resources for their patrons. Libraries are essential for connecting patrons to the resources they need in these times of crisis. Knowing this, librarians accessed the damage and determined ways to get back online as fast as possible. Thank you. Thank you to my partner Dee for stepping up in her own community when crisis hit. Thank you to all the librarians in areas affected by the storms and events for all that you have done.  Thank you for guiding patrons to FEMA applications and crisis counseling. Thank you for creating resource flyers. For those in areas unaffected, thank you for informing patrons on ways they can help. Thank you.

I am proud to be in a profession that remains a beacon in every squall, leading their communities to the information they need to move forward. If you have not already read it, there is a great piece on American Libraries by Timothy Inklebarger called Rebuilding Communities after Disasters. It highlights just a few ways libraries are being so amazing in such troublesome times.

-Cas

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Hurricane Harvey Library Relief

Hurricane Harvey Library Relief

Our mission here at Tinkering Librarians is to share tech tools that library staff may find useful in some way, be it with a goal of being a more productive librarian or helping our patrons.  However, we do occasionally deviate to talk about things we think are important, and today I’d like to share a couple of ways you can help Texas Libraries in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

We get our fair share of bad weather in south Mississippi, and I know personally how tough it can be for a library to recover from a natural disaster.  My university’s campus, including our library, was directly hit by a tornado earlier this year.  No building on campus escaped some degree of damage or destruction.  Before I joined my university community, an entire campus was lost to Hurricane Katrina and was thankfully rebuilt in a new location.  It’s not always easy to bounce back, but it certainly can be done with help from the greater community.  Right now, Texas libraries need our help.

Library Journal posted an article detailing the situation for Texas, and Houston libraries in particular, on Tuesday.  It’s devastating to think of the destruction that awaits these library staff members and their patron communities.  If you’d like to help Texas libraries recover from Harvey, the Texas Library Association is accepting donations and selling coloring books to benefit their disaster relief fund.  This is a great way to donate where 100% of the proceeds will go directly to Texas libraries in need.

I’d also like to urge each of you to either review your library’s disaster preparedness plan on a regular basis or to create a plan if you don’t have one in place.  The American Library Association offers resources to help create and assess such a plan.  Don’t let yourself get stuck in the mindset of “it won’t happen to us.”  Hopefully, you’ll never need to put your plan into practice, but if you do, you’ll want to make sure it is up to date and sound.

-Dee

Eclipse Online

Eclipse Online

Glasses prices are skyrocketing, and more people are looking to their local libraries to provide them with glasses. Unfortunately many have or will run out, and others never had the funds to get them. To help assuage the frustrated patron, I have made a flyer pointing to some great sites hosting live streams of the eclipse. You can find links to it at the end.

Here’s a little more information on the links in the flyer.

  • The NASA Live Stream will host “a four-hour show, Eclipse Across America, with unprecedented live video of the celestial event, along with coverage of activities in parks, libraries, stadiums, festivals and museums across the nation, and on social media.” It will be broad cast from telescopes, airplanes, and high altitude balloons (HAB). Some of the HAB footage will be coming from the Eclipse Ballooning Project, a collaborative project with students in 25 locations along the eclipse path in North America.
  • Slooh is a website that touts itself as “Syndicate Live Telescope Coverage.” They will be streaming live from their telescope in Stanley, Idaho, with commentary from Slooh astronomers.
  • A second NASA hosted stream is NASA Edge. It will feature interviews with scientists, educational content, and telescope feeds.

Continue reading “Eclipse Online”

Disposable Email Services

Disposable Email Services

There are several reasons why you or your patrons might want to use a disposable email address: maybe it’s for anonymity, maybe you want to avoid tons of SPAM from a site when all you need is a validation email, maybe you just want to make a post to a forum and be done with it forever, maybe you’re up to no good.  Who knows?  As a librarian, I don’t need to know why you need an anonymous email, but I can give you some tools to help out!  There are many options out there, but I’m just going to highlight a couple. Continue reading “Disposable Email Services”

Dark Web or Deep Web? Blockwhat? Deciphering the Language of the Internet

Dark Web or Deep Web? Blockwhat? Deciphering the Language of the Internet

I got a question from a colleague about the difference between the dark and deep web. Trying to explain the difference clearly and quickly took effort. However, I think many people want a quick “what is [term]?” So here is my effort at tl;dr* friendly explanations of some terminology that keeps popping up in today’s conversations about the internet.

DEEP WEB

The deep web is the term to refer to all of the internet content that for one reason or another cannot be indexed by search engines because blocks such as of paywalls or security measures. Think databases, medical records, or encrypted sites. The dark web is part of the deep web, but not all of the deep web is dark.

DARK WEB

The dark web is the term for a collection of sites that mask their IP address so it is difficult, if not impossible to find out where the servers originate. Most of these sites run encryption, like TOR, see below, which means that they cannot be accessed by normal browsers. In simplest terms, both the site and the user agree to talk only when both are anonymous. The dark web is not only used for illicit drugs and sex trade, it is also used to help whistleblowers or to avoid censorshipContinue reading “Dark Web or Deep Web? Blockwhat? Deciphering the Language of the Internet”

Productivity enhancement using blockers

Productivity enhancement using blockers

So… I have a confession to make: I am not disciplined enough to have tried these website and app blockers myself.  ONE DAY, I will break my habit of checking Facebook 20 times a day and having 15 tabs open, but today isn’t that day.  However, after admitting I check Facebook so often, I know I have a problem and could potentially be much more productive and focused at work if I blocked such sites and apps on my work PC.  I have a feeling some of you probably feel the same way, so with the caveat that I can offer no personal experience using these add-on blockers, I am listing just a few I recently learned about here in hopes of publicly shaming myself into trying them. Continue reading “Productivity enhancement using blockers”

Keeping up with tech

Keeping up with tech

I think the hardest part of each day is fitting in the time to look for and learn something new. There are so many projects running across my some days, I don’t have much free time. It’s taken a while to find a system that works. The one thing I’ve learned is that, in the area of time management, few things are universal. Regardless, I’ll share what is working for me, and hopefully get some ideas from you in the comments below.

The first thing I had to do was get organized. You may have remembered my BUJO experiment. Well that failed, mainly because I would forget to bring it or not have a pen. I tried several mobile task managers, but settled on Asana. It’s a group project manager, but I love the way it looks on my phone and it’s ubiquity. Once I could better organize the projects on my plate I opened up a great deal of time for myself.

My biggest friends are aggregators. I subscribe to LibrarySherpa (which is powered by Nuzzle) and utilize Feedly (adopted after Pulse was bought out and changed). Also, RSS feeds have proved to be a huge boon. So for that last one, I fought RSS feeds for a LONG LONG time. I didn’t see the point, until my inbox was already full and was now additionally cluttered with emails I didn’t have time for. The RSS feed leaves it on the side of my Outlook, waiting patiently for me, and does not follow me when I get home. RSS has really allowed me to step away when I got home, as my inbox was no longer pinging early in the morning and late at night with some new post. Instead, on my lunch break I scan through my different feeds, open what links seem most interesting, and I feel decently informed day to day. Continue reading “Keeping up with tech”