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.
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”
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”
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.
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.
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 censorship. Continue reading “Dark Web or Deep Web? Blockwhat? Deciphering the Language of the Internet”
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”
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”
Today, I just wanted to share a fun reader’s advisory tool, Literature-Map. You simply search the name of an author you enjoy, and the site creates a word map of related authors. It’s super simple and fun! I can see this being very helpful in the library when a patron mentions an unfamiliar author and wants recommendations for similar works.
Here’s one I did for Michael Crichton:
I want to use this post to boost a signal. OpenCon 2017 will be in Germany this year! Despite how many librarians care for and participate in Open in some form, very few were represented at the last conference. So, I’d like to encourage more librarian voices by increasing visibility a bit. I wrote about my experience at OpenCon2016, which you can read here and here. Here is a small blurb from them.
OpenCon is more than a conference. It’s a platform for the next generation to learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. OpenCon 2017 is at the center of a growing community of thousands of students and early career academic professionals from across the world working to create an open system for research and education.
Applications to attend OpenCon 2017 in Berlin, Germany will open on June 27th.
I really suggest you keep your eye on the event and apply to attend.Applications will be opening soon. You can sign up for updates or get involved now by joining the community. The community is active, the projects are incredible, and the ability to link globally is powerful. It is a great experience, and if you cannot attend in person, you should look into checking in live online. Need more convincing, here are the videos from last years conference. Of if you want, browse the highlights.
Have you guys tried the new Springshare update, LibGuides v2? I’ve only recently been playing around with my beta site, and I have to say I really like what I see so far. One of the complaints I’ve had about some library websites in the past has been that they look to “LibGuides-esque.” I’ve never liked the clunky appearance. Let’s face it, the awesome thing about LibGuides has always been the ease of use for librarians, not the ease of use for patrons. That being said, they’ve really listened to users and stepped up their game. If you haven’t ordered your beta site for v2 yet, go ahead and do it. It’s simple to use, and there’s a ton of documentation to help you get started. You can even choose to import guides from your old site if you wish. If you decide to use their CMS, you can create your entire site on LibGuides and even have a very non-guide looking homepage. I give this new product two thumbs way up!
If LibGuides is out of your budget, you might consider trying out a free alternative such as SubjectsPlus. Many libraries already use this product, and the guides look great. The sites are responsive and user-friendly. It was created by libraries for libraries, so you are just the audience they have in mind. Give it a go!
No matter the type of library, there is bound to be a need for subject guides. If traditional subject guides aren’t for your patrons or colleagues, think outside the box and try something new. I hope to one day create a “behind the scenes” dashboard guide for our student workers to use. Ideally, it will have training modules, schedules and contact information, as well as expected tasks or duties for each shift. What innovative ideas do you have for using LibGuides or a similar product?
Sometimes you have to step away from a problem to better be able to tackle it. I have been wrestling with my google apps script for weeks. After that last post, I put it away for a bit, but apparently not long enough. I had a goal: create a form using Google Apps Script that uploaded files and the recorded the information submitted. Seems simple enough.
But the difficulty was my fault, not the code. My brain didn’t formulate the problem the way I phrased it above. My brain had already decided how we were going to solve the problem. So I spent weeks playing with the code so that I had a form that uploaded a file to Google Drive, imported information into a Google Sheet, and sent an email that there was a new submission.
Are your eyes rolling yet? Continue reading “Cas 1 – 0 Google Script”