Thing #82: Crowdfunding

Please note: This month’s thing involves money. To be clear, we are not requiring you to spend any; unless you want to. That’s up to you.

In these days of tight library budgets, sometimes you have a great idea but you don’t have the funds to implement it. If you find yourself in this situation, have you considered trying to crowdfund your idea?

kickstarter_graphic_v2-1What is crowdfunding?

According to Wikipedia “crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. One early-stage equity expert described it as “the practice of raising funds from two or more people over the internet towards a common Service, Project, Product, Investment, Cause, and Experience or SPPICE.” The crowdfunding model is fueled by three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organization (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch the idea.”

Simply put, you have an idea, and you ask others to contribute funds to make that idea come to fruition. I’ve provided several examples of crowdfunded projects, both current and completed, near the end of this post.

Generally crowfunding works like this:

  1. Come up with the idea. Let’s say it’s to bring an author into the library for a program and all told it will cost $3000.
  2. Choose the crowdfunding platform on which you’re going to raise the money. (Some platforms don’t allow certain types of fundraising and/or fundraisers. More on this later.)
  3. Write up your idea along with what the end result will be, how much you’re asking for, what are the risks to the contributors, the end date for your fundraising effort, and (depending on the platform,) what the reward(s) will be for the contributors. (A free ticket to the event would be a reward example for this type of project or maybe a meet & greet with the author for a high-dollar contributor.)
  4. Promote your idea.
  5. When the end date arrives, collect your funds minus the platform’s fees and implement your idea. (On some platforms if you don’t achieve your funding goal, you don’t get any of the money. On others, you get whatever amount was contributed.)

If you’re more of an infographic person, click on the one of the right for the full-sized version. It is Kickstarter-centric, but accurate for most of the current platforms.


There are dozens of crowdfunding platforms available and more are being created regularly. To keep focus I’ll be briefly introducing you to three of the larger and more popular ones.

  • Kickstarter
    Kickstarter is pretty much the grandfather of the platforms. Everything from art books, to albums, to feature films have been funded here. On Kickstarter, if you don’t achieve your funding goal, you don’t get any of the money and you’re pretty much expected to offer something in exchange for contributions based on the amount contributed. Also, “Kickstarter does not allow projects to fundraise for charity or offer financial incentives.” Because of this I have heard of libraries having their projects being declined by Kickstarter.
  • Indiegogo
    Indiegogo is the next largest of the platforms and seems to be a bit more open than Kickstarter on who can create projects and the types of projects that can be created. For example, Kickstarter generally wants a “something that can be shared” to come out of a project whereas here you could ask for funds to take a trip by yourself. From what I’ve read, Indigogo is more library friendly.
  • GoFundMe
    GoFundMe focuses more on crowdfunding individuals and charitable organizations that are just looking for a new was to do fundraising. They have plans for “Personal Campaigns,” “Charity Fundraising,” and “All-or-Nothing” campaigns. Years ago when I collected money to fund a honeymoon I used a travel agent. If I was to do that again today I’d probably use GoFundMe instead.

Pros & Cons

Pros & cons of crowdfunding can be looked at from two perspectives, from that of those looking to receive the funds and from those doing the funding.

For those that are looking to raise funds this can be a great way to advertise your project on a more global scale. For example, I’ve contributed to library projects for libraries in other states. Had they just advertised locally, they would not have had me as a contributor. On the down side, this can be a lot of work and depending on the platform you choose, it may all be for naught. Also, be sure to check with your governing body (city council for example,) about any fundraising rules you may not be aware of.

From the funder’s perspective the up side is that you can have the great feeling knowing that you directly helped someone achieve their goal and in most cases get one for yourself. As a contributor I personally have received a number of books and movies either earlier than the general commercial release, or as part of a limited edition run that was only available to contributors. On tho down-side however, whenever I contribute I am taking a chance that the item I’m funding will actually appear. If you read the fine print, in most cases the platform will not make a guarantee that the funds will be used as intended. Though so far I have received just about everything I’ve funded, a few projects have gone under and not delivered.


Here’s a few examples of library & librarians that have used crowdfunding:

And here are several projects that Commission staff have personally participated in:


  1. Take some time and check out the three crowdfunding platforms we’ve linked to. Check out things like their rules and fees, and be sure to browse through both current and past projects for things that would either interest you personally or might be an example of what you’re library could do.
  2. Blog about your experience. Be sure to talk about:
    • How could crowdfunding be used in your library? Give us an example of a project that you’d like to do in the library. (You do not need to actually do it.)
    • Which platform would you choose and why? What would be involved in implementing your crowdfunding idea?
    • As an individual, did you find any projects that you would consider funding? Which one(s) and why or why not?

(Full disclosure: This lesson is based on an early draft of a chapter on Crowdfunding for a book I’m currently working on.)

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Book Thing #31: dot complicated

This Month’s BookThing is dot complicated by Randi Zuckerberg..

From the back cover:

dot complicatedFrom Randi Zuckerberg, social media and technology expert and former marketing executive at Facebook, comes a welcome, essential guide to understanding social media and technology and how they influence and inform our lives online and off.

Technology and social media have changed, enhanced, and complicated every facet of our lives—from how we interact with our friends to how we elect presidents, from how we manage our careers to how we support important causes, from how we find love to how we raise our children.

The technology revolution is not going away. We can’t hide from it or pretend that it’s not changing our lives in a thousand different ways. So how do we deal? In Dot Complicated, Randi Zuckerberg shows us. Through first hand accounts of her time at Facebook and beyond, where Zuckerberg witnessed this remarkable shift, she details the opportunities and obstacles, problems and solutions, to this new online reality. In the process, she establishes rules to bring some much-needed order and clarity to our connected, complicated, and constantly changing lives online. “The Internet, social networks, and smartphones,” Zuckerberg writes, “have given us amazing new tools and ways of communicating, collaborating, and living with one another. We can use new technology to understand and solve some very old challenges that individuals and communities around the world have faced since long before Facebook, or anything like it, existed.”

Invaluable, timely, and engaging, Dot Complicated reveals how to make it through your life online in one piece—from the etiquette of unfriending and the power of crowdsourcing to the perils of photo tags and the importance of teaching your kids how to be tech savvy.

Randi ZuckerbergAbout Randi Zuckerberg:

Zuckerberg has been on the frontline of the social media movement since Facebook’s early days and her following six years as a marketing executive for the company. Her part memoir, part how-to manual addresses issues of privacy, online presence, networking, etiquette, and the future of social change.

To earn 2 CE credits answer the following three questions in a 300 word blog post or a three minute video posted to your blog:

  1. What did you / what can librarians learn from this book?
  2. How might the focus of this book impact library service?
  3. How might the focus of this book impact library users?

If you would like to plan ahead, next month’s book will be We are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgencyby Parmy Olson.

Please contact the Information Services Team if you’d like to check out any of these titles from the Commission. Thanks.

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Thing #81: Mashup Video with Popcorn Maker

For this month’s Thing, we’re going to learn how to use Popcorn Maker to remix video, audio and images to create new video mashups that you can use to promote your library and its services.PopcornMaker

Popcorn Maker is part of Webmaker, a suite of tools developed by Mozilla (yes, the Firefox people) to help people create new web content while at the same time learning how the web works.

You are welcome to explore the other Webmaker tools, but for this Thing, we are going to explore Popcorn Maker.

The basic concept of Popcorn Maker is to create something brand new, using content from various places on the web and combining it with your own text and links. And you can do it all without having to learn programing, using the simple drag and drop browser interface.

You can import video from YouTube or Vimeo, and audio from Clyp or Soundcloud. And then add more information from Google Maps, Flickr, and Wikipedia to enhance the video.

Lastly, you can insert your own text pop-ups, annotations and links. The links within your video are live, so your viewers will be able to click on them within your video. This will pause your video, and open up a new tab in your browser with the website you wanted them to see.

Popcorn Maker also has video control features that you can use to modify how your video plays: Loop, Skip and Pause.

To get started, you will need to create an account with Mozilla Persona. When you go to Popcorn Maker, there will be a blue Sign In link in the upper right of the screen.  All you need to do is enter your email address, and create a Password and User Name. Persona will send you an email to confirm your account. Once that’s done, you’re ready to make videos!

This video tutorial will show you how to use Popcorn Maker to create your own remixed mashup video:

Mozilla Webmaker also has a gallery of pre-made starter videos that you can experiment with to create new mashups. In the Gallery, on the right side of the page, use the Filter pull-down to limit the results to Popcorn. Then you can see what other people have created, and modify their videos, too.

If you’d like to learn more about Mozilla and their Webmaker initiative and Mozillarian community, check out the recording of the NCompass Live Tech Talk with Michael Sauers, Enter the Mozillarian: Weaving the Mozilla and Library Communities.


  1. Go to Popcorn Maker and create an account with Mozilla Persona to use the tool.
  2. Make a short mashup video, adding any elements you like.
  3. Write a blog post about your experience with video mashups. Be sure to either embed your video in your blog post, or include a link to it, so we can all watch. Some things to think about:
  • What did you like/dislike about Popcorn Maker? What did you think of the video mashup process? Was it difficult or easy to create your own video?
  • How can Popcorn Maker be used in libraries?
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Book Thing #30: The Social Life of Information

This Month’s BookThing is going back into the archives for The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid.


The Social Life of InformationTo see the future we can build with information technology, we must look beyond mere information to the social context that creates and gives meaning to it. For years, pundits have predicted that information technology will obliterate the need for almost everything—from travel to supermarkets to business organizations to social life itself. Individual users, however, tend to be more sceptical. Beaten down by info-glut and exasperated by computer systems fraught with software crashes, viruses, and unintelligible error messages, they find it hard to get a fix on the true potential of the digital revolution. John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid help us to see through frenzied visions of the future to the real forces for change in society. They argue that the gap between digerati hype and end-user gloom is largely due to the ‘tunnel vision’ that information-driven technologies breed. We’ve become so focused on where we think we ought to be—a place where technology empowers individuals and obliterates social organizations—that we often fail to see where we’re really going and what’s helping us get there. We need, they argue, to look beyond our obsession with information and individuals to include the critical social networks of which these are always a part. Drawing from rich learning experiences at Xerox PARC, from examples such as IBM, Chiat/Day Advertising, and California’s ‘Virtual University’, and from historical, social, and cultural research, the authors sharply challenge the futurists’ sweeping predictions.They explain how many of the tools, jobs, and organizations seemingly targeted for future extinction in fact provide useful social resources that people will fight to keep. Rather than aiming technological bullets at these ‘relics’, we should instead look for ways that the new world of bits can learn from and complement them. Arguing elegantly for the important role that human sociability plays, even—perhaps especially—in the world of bits, The Social Life of Information gives us an optimistic look beyond the simplicities of information and individuals. It shows how a better understanding of the contribution that communities, organizations, and institutions make to learning, working and innovating can lead to the richest possible use of technology in our work and everyday lives.

About John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid:

John Seely BrownJohn Seely Brown (JSB) is a visiting scholar and advisor to the Provost at University of Southern California (USC) and the Independent Co-Chairman of the Deloitte’s Center for the Edge. Prior to that he was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)–a position he held for nearly two decades. He was a cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education.

JSB is an avid reader, traveler and motorcyclist. Part scientist, part artist and part strategist, his views are unique and distinguished by a broad view of the human contexts in which technologies operate and a healthy skepticism about whether or not change always represents genuine progress.

His unofficial title has become Chief of Confusion focusing on helping people ask the right questions and make sense out of a constantly changing world.

Paul Diguid[Paul Diguid is] an adjunct full professor at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley; a visiting fellow in business history in the School of Management at York University (UK), and an honorary fellow of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development at Lancaster University School of Management. From 2005-2012 I was professorial research fellow at Queen Mary, University of London; From 2005-2006 I was a visiting fellow at the Center for Science, Technology, Society at Santa Clara University. From 2002 to 2005, I was part-time visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School, Department of Organisational and Industrial Sociology; and in Spring, 2003, maître de recherche at the École Polytechnique in Paris. From 1989 to 2001 I was affiliated to the Office of Central Management at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center; prior to that, a member of the Institute for Research on Learning.
At Berkeley, I co-teach “Concepts of Information” (info 218) and the “History of Information” (Info 103) with Geoffrey Nunberg.

[His] current research interests include the history and development of trademarks and the history of the concept of information.

To earn 3 CE credits answer the following three questions in a 300 word blog post or a three minute video posted to your blog:

  1. What did you / what can librarians learn from this book?
  2. How might the focus of this book impact library service?
  3. How might the focus of this book impact library users?

If you would like to plan ahead, next month’s book will be dot complicated by Randi Zuckerberg.

Please contact the Information Services Team if you’d like to check out any of these titles from the Commission. Thanks.

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Book Thing #29: Revolution 2.0

This Month’s BookThing is Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power by Wael Ghonim.


Revolution 2.0The revolutions that swept the Middle East in 2011 surprised and captivated the world. Brutal regimes that had been in power for decades were overturned by an irrepressible mass of freedom seekers. Now, one of the figures who emerged during the Egyptian uprising tells the riveting inside story of what happened and shares the keys to unleashing the power of crowds.

Wael Ghonim was a little-known, thirty-year-old Google executive in the summer of 2010 when he anonymously launched a Facebook page to protest the death of one Egyptian man at the hands of security forces. The page’s following expanded quickly and moved from online protests to a nonconfrontational movement.

The youth of Egypt made history: they used social media to schedule a revolution. The call went out to more than a million Egyptians online, and on January 25, 2011, Cairo’s Tahrir Square resounded with calls for change. Yet just as the revolution began in earnest, Ghonim was captured and held for twelve days of brutal interrogation. After he was released, he gave a tearful speech on national television, and the protests grew more intense. Four days later, the president of Egypt was gone.

The lessons Ghonim draws will inspire each of us. He saw the road to Tahrir Square built not by any one person, but by the people. In Revolution 2.0, we can all be heroes.

About Wael Ghonim:

Wael GhonimWael Ghonim, a 31 year-old Egyptian, came onto the global scene during the January 25th Revolution in Egypt. Coined the “keyboard freedom fighter,” he used the power of the internet and social media to fight for social justice. Ghonim was the anonymous founder of a Facebook page called “Kullena Khaled Said” (We are all Khaled Said) which initiated the first to call for the January 25th Revolution that resulted in the toppling of the 30-year Mubarak regime.

Wael is considered one of the region’s digital pioneers – launching many firsts in the tech industry including some of the region’s most important websites until he landed at Google. He served as the Regional Marketing Manager for Google in the Middle East and North Africa overseeing 18 countries when the revolution unfolded.

During the revolution, Wael was kidnapped and held in captivity by the Egyptian State Security for 11 days where he was blindfolded and handcuffed. Following a global campaign for his release, Ghonim was freed days before Mubarak stepped down. His emotional TV interview following his release touched millions of Egyptians and inspired more people to take to the streets. He shared his full story as author of Revolution 2.0 – The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power which is sold globally in ten languages.

Immediately after the revolution Wael took a sabbatical from Google and became active in Egypt’s civil society working on two main initiatives. He founded an NGO called Nabadat (Pulses in Arabic), which aims at fostering education opportunities for Egyptians through technology. Its first project, TahrirAcademy, which offers online educational videos, reached more than half a million Arabs. He also co-founded Masrena (meaning Our Egypt in Arabic), which is a political lobbying group with more than 30k members working towards realizing the goals of the January 25th revolution.

Today, “Kullena Khaled Said” Facebook page remains a key influential voice on the political scene and has 2.3m members actively engaged in Egypt’s political transition to democracy. It is the largest political page in the Arab World today.

Wael received his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Cairo University and earned an MBA from the American University in Cairo. He is married with two children and resides in Cairo & Dubai. In 2011, Wael was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was named one of Time 100′s most influential and received JFK Profile in Courage Award on behalf of the Egyptian people.

To earn 2 CE credits answer the following three questions in a 300 word blog post or a three minute video posted to your blog:

  1. What did you / what can librarians learn from this book?
  2. How might the focus of this book impact library service?
  3. How might the focus of this book impact library users?

If you would like to plan ahead, next month’s book will be The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid.

Please contact the Information Services Team if you’d like to check out any of these titles from the Commission. Thanks.

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