Reminder: CPD23 is back!

Have you been participating in this year’s CPD23?

Don’t forget, you can earn 15 CE Credits if you complete all 23 Things for Professional Development by October 31, 2012.

Details are in our previous blog post: http://nlcblogs.nebraska.gov/nelearns/2012/05/21/cpd23-is-back/

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Thing #58: Tell Your Library Story with Infographics

A picture is worth a thousand words. We all know how true this is. Photos are a great way to share your library’s story – pictures of toddler and baby story time, rows of computers with every seat filled, teen/senior gaming tournaments.

But what if the information you need to share is numbers? Statistics about your library programs and services are also very important. Especially to those interested in your library’s funding. They want to know how many adult summer reading program participants you had, what your circulation statistics are, how many people came to your computer training classes.

But, let’s be honest. Numbers are boring. Sure, you can put them into a bar graph or pie chart. That will surely make them easier to grasp. But, what if you could combine the importance of your statistics with the power of visuals?

For this month’s Thing we are going to explore infographics. We will use free tools to take your library’s statistics and combine them with fun visuals to engage any audience and tell your library’s story.

What are infographics?

Infographics is short for information graphics. They are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly. And they have become prevalent not just on the internet, but in print newspapers and magazines as well.

You’ve seen them yourself, and they’ve attracted your attention, right? If you see an infographic next to a text article, where do you look first? That’s right – the infographic!

We can take advantage of infographics to quickly capture people’s attention and advocate for our library, promote our programs, or report on our services.

The thought of attempting to create an infographic yourself can be intimidating. But luckily, there are free, easy-to-use tools available that can help someone with virtually no graphic design skills (like me!) create interesting, dynamic, and informative infographics.

Infogr.am

With Infogr.am you can create either a basic chart or a more complex infographic.

The pre-made templates make it very easy to get started. Just pick the style you like, then go on to filling in a title and adding text. You can import data from a spreadsheet that will be used to create your graphic.

You can add pictures, a chart, other text, or quotes to help sell your point.

When you’re happy with your graphic, you can Publish it to Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. You can also view it on the web, with it’s own URL, and get the code to embed it into a website.

After it is created and published, your infographic is saved into your Library, where you can retrieve it to share again, or to update.

Visual.ly

Do you want to show the impact of your library’s Facebook or Twitter accounts? Visual.ly is a tool just for that.

In order to use Visual.ly, you do have to give it access to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. That way it can gather the information it needs to create your infographic.

Once you have approved the app to access your Facebook account, you can use it to create an infographic about yourself, or about any pages that you are the administrator for.

The personal graphic is fun – you Monsterize yourself! To the left is one that Christa did for herself (click the graphics to enlarge).

For your library’s page, you would choose the Facebook Insights option. Then it can pull the statistics of your library’s Facebook page into an infographic. To the right is the “Facebook Social Life” of the Nebraska Library Commission.

Via your Twitter account, you can create a graphic about a particular hashtag. So, if you have created a hashtag about an event or program at your library, you can show how it’s been used. Here’s an example of the life of the hash tag for the 2012 ALA Annual Conference:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you have created your infographic, you can download as an image or a PDF, share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, email a link to the graphic, or get the embed code to put it on a website.

Visual.ly is not just a place to create infographics. It also is a repository for inforgraphics created by others. You can search for, and share, infographics on all sorts of topics.

Piktochart

If you’re looking for something that can let you get really creative, try Piktochart. Like Infogr.am, you start by choosing a theme. But, after that, you have many more options for customizing.

You can change the “mood” by picking a new color scheme for the theme you selected. When you upload your statistical data, or enter it manually, a Chart Wizard helps you decide the best way to display it.

The drag and drop functionality of Piktochart makes it very easy to edit your infographic. You can choose from many shapes and pre-made graphics and move them around to new locations on the infographic. As with Infogr.am, there are many font choices as well. And you can upload your own images. For example, you could add those pictures of your library events, or the library logo to brand the graphic.

When you are done, you can save your infographic so that you can access it later to edit again. And you can download it as an image that you can then print out or add to a website.

Further Resources

There is lots of information available about how to make great infographics. Here are just a few places to get you started:

How to Create Your Own Infographics – Librarian Lifestyle

Infographics for Librarians, Educators, and Other Cool Geeks

Over 100 Incredible Infographic Tools and Resources Categorized – Stephen’s Lighthouse

If you really want to get deep into creating infographics, Kathy Schrock’s webpage, Infographics as a Creative Assessment, is overflowing with instructions, samples, tutorials, lesson plans, and more.

Assignment

  1. Pick one infographic tool: Infogr.am, Visual.ly or Piktochart.
  2. Create an infographic about your library. It can be about the library as a whole, or just one service or program.
  3. Create a blog post and embed your infographic into the post.
  4. Write about your experience: What did you like/dislike about the tool you used? How easy or difficult was it to create your infographic? What are some ways that libraries can use infographics?
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BookThing #7: Tubes

This Month’s BookThing is Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum.

From Amazon.com:

When your Internet cable leaves your living room, where does it go? Almost everything about our day-to-day lives—and the broader scheme of human culture—can be found on the Internet. But what is it physically? And where is it really? Our mental map of the network is as blank as the map of the ocean that Columbus carried on his first Atlantic voyage. The Internet, its material nuts and bolts, is an unexplored territory. Until now.

In Tubes, journalist Andrew Blum goes inside the Internet’s physical infrastructure and flips on the lights, revealing an utterly fresh look at the online world we think we know. It is a shockingly tactile realm of unmarked compounds, populated by a special caste of engineer who pieces together our networks by hand; where glass fibers pulse with light and creaky telegraph buildings, tortuously rewired, become communication hubs once again. From the room in Los Angeles where the Internet first flickered to life to the caverns beneath Manhattan where new fiber-optic cable is buried; from the coast of Portugal, where a ten-thousand-mile undersea cable just two thumbs wide connects Europe and Africa, to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, where Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have built monumental data centers—Blum chronicles the dramatic story of the Internet’s development, explains how it all works, and takes the first-ever in-depth look inside its hidden monuments.

This is a book about real places on the map: their sounds and smells, their storied pasts, their physical details, and the people who live there. For all the talk of the “placelessness” of our digital age, the Internet is as fixed in real, physical spaces as the railroad or telephone. You can map it and touch it, and you can visit it. Is the Internet in fact “a series of tubes” as Ted Stevens, the late senator from Alaska, once famously described it? How can we know the Internet’s possibilities if we don’t know its parts?

Like Tracy Kidder’s classic The Soul of a New Machine or Tom Vanderbilt’s recent bestseller Traffic, Tubes combines on-the-ground reporting and lucid explanation into an engaging, mind-bending narrative to help us understand the physical world that underlies our digital lives.

Reviews:

“Fascinating and unique. . . . [A] captivating behind-the-scenes tour of how (and where) the Internet works. . . . [Blum] has a gift for breathing life into his subjects.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review) )

“With infectious wonder, Blum introduces us to the Internet’s geeky wizards and takes us on an amiably guided tour of the world they’ve created, a world of wires and routers through which most of us daily wander . . . but which few of us have ever really seen.” (Donovan Hohn, author of Moby-Duck )

“Every web site, every email, every instant message travels through real junctions in a real network of real cables. It’s all too awesome to behold. Andrew Blum’s fascinating book demystifies the earthly geography of this most ethereal terra incognita.” (Joshua Foer, bestselling author of Moonwalking with Einstein )

“Compelling and profound. . . . For the first time, Tubes brings the ‘network of networks’ into stirring, and surprising, relief. You will never open an email in quite the same way again.” (Tom Vanderbilt, bestselling author of Traffic )

“A compelling story of an altogether new realm where the virtual world meets the physical.” (Paul Goldberger, author of Why Architecture Matters )

“At once funny, prosaic, sinister and wise . . . A beautifully written account of the true human cost of all our remote connectivity.” (Bella Bathurst, author of The Lighthouse Stevensons )

About Andrew Blum:

Andrew Blum is a journalist and the author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the first book-length look behind the scenes of our digital lives, at the physical heart of the Internet itself. Before falling into the Internet’s depths, Blum was writing about architecture, design, technology, urbanism, art, and travel–all subjects arising out of his interest in the relationship between place and technology. Since 1999, Blum’s articles and essays have appeared in Wired, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Business Week, Metropolis, Popular Science, Gizmodo, The Atlantic, Architectural Record, and Slate, among many other publications. He has degrees in literature from Amherst College and in human geography from the University of Toronto, and lives in his native New York City with his wife and daughter.

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?

Special note: Have you seen our epsiode of NCompass Live from July 25th during which we interviewed author Andrew Blum! If not, here it is:

If you would like to plan ahead, next month’s book will be Public Parts by Jeff Jarvis.

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Wakoopa follow-up

I received this today from Wakoopa and just wanted to make sure no one missed it.

Dear Wakoopian,

This is a follow-up on our previous e-mail where we announced the closing of Wakoopa Social.

As of today you can download your personal export from the website http://social.wakoopa.com. This possibility will be around for three months, until October 1st. After that we will destroy all the data.

We want to thank you all for the time and effort you have put into our product. Together we truly made discovering software social.

Best regards,
Wouter Broekhof, Founder & CTO

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Thing #57: Playing With a New Gadget

This month’s Thing comes to us courtesy of Learning for Life Online at the Boston Public Library.

When you’re trying to live life online, it’s important to know how to play with a new online tool. It’s also important to know how to start using and playing with the gadgets that connect us to those online tools. Some gadgets are so easy to use that it’s no problem, and others require a little more work.

Here are some suggestions for getting started with a brand new gadget:

  1. Read the manual, but don’t try to read it all at once. Start with the list of What’s in the Box and the Getting Started or Quick Start sections. Go slowly, and look up any words that aren’t familiar. Read as much of the manual as you can before you turn your gadget on.
  2. Push the buttons Follow along with the manual, step by step. Learn what each button and setting does when you press it, one by one.
  3. Do the ‘driving’ yourself. If you let another family member or friend ‘set up’ your gadget for you, you won’t understand how it works. Try to at least get the basics, so you can troubleshoot any problems yourself. Do ask someone to go through it with you, if that helps, but push your own buttons.
  4. Be patient with yourself. You’re learning a new skill and a new tool. Don’t rush, and take breaks when you need to. The more time you take now, the more you’ll know from now on.
  5. Have fun! This isn’t school, and you aren’t getting graded. Learning how a new gadget works gives you the freedom to play, and gives you the power to make it do what you want it to (rather than the other way around).

Remember, like online tools, similar gadgets often work in similar ways. The Power button always turns it on and off. The volume controls will be the same everywhere, as will Play and Stop. Menu button will almost always get you back to your main menu of choices. Yes, some of these gadgets have a lot of buttons, but the basics tend to look and work the same way on all of them. If you knew how to operate a cassette Walkman, an iPod or other mp3 player will feel very similar.

Help & Resources

There are too many kinds of gadgets out there to list, so here’s a few good ideas for finding help about your gadget online:

  • Go straight to the company’s website. Type the full website address in at the top of your browser and hit Enter. Then, look for a link on that says Product Information, Support, Help, or Troubleshooting. Click on it, read the screen, and click the appropriate link.
  • Use a search engine to find information. Type in the full name of the gadget and the word ‘support’ or ‘help,’ then click Search. Lots of results will come up – look for ones from the company that made your gadget first, then try others. The first page of results will have the most popular links, which might be most helpful (if they’ve helped other people).
  • Ask someone else who owns one. A friend, a family member, someone you know from work or school. Even if they don’t know the answer to your question, the two of you might be able to sit down together and figure it out. That answer might be useful to them one day, too.
  • Use a search engine to find discussion forums about your gadget; search for the name of your gadget the word ‘forum’ or ‘discussion.’ This is a little more advanced, usually, because the conversations on these forums are often technical.

Assignment:

1. Find a gadget in your home or library that you’ve been meaning to learn something about and use this as a great opportunity to find the time to get to know it. Use any or all of the examples and resources above to learn about your device.
2. Write a blog post about your experience. If your gadget allows you to create something (a digital camera for example) be sure to include one of your creations in your blog post.

If you don’t have a new gadget at hand, feel free to relate your experiences with a new gadget that you’ve learned about within the past three months.

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