Category Archives: Technology

‘E-rate: What’s New for 2020?’ Recording now available

The recording and presentation slides of the E-rate: What’s New for 2020? online session are now available.

What is E-rate? How do I apply for E-rate? How can my library get its piece of the E-rate pie?

E-rate is a federal program that provides discounts to schools and public libraries on the cost of their Internet Access and Connections to make these services more affordable. This includes Broadband, Fiber, and Wi-Fi Internet access as well as Internal Connections, such as wiring, routers, switches, and other network equipment.

The E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) is your online portal for all E-rate interactions. With your organizational account you can use EPC to file forms, track your application status, communicate with USAC, and more.

In this workshop, Christa Porter, Nebraska’s State E-rate Coordinator for Public Libraries, will cover the basics of the E-rate program and show you how to access and use your account in EPC to submit your Funding Year 2020 E-rate application.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with your E-rate forms, visit the NLC E-rate webpage or please contact Christa Porter, 800-307-2665, 402-471-3107.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: What is a Chatbot?

Right now, I’m exploring the use of chatbots in the library. As with any technology, there are pros and cons. Essentially, chatbots simulate human conversation in text or voice. More often than not, you will encounter chatbots in large banks or major corporations.

Most chatbots are designed to handle specific tasks, not full conversations. For example, a bank chatbot might be designed to handle requests to check a bank balance, find most recent transactions, or deposit checks. However, if you make a request outside the chatbot’s specialized task, the system breaks down and leads to customer frustration. Better designed bots will send the human to a real human agent after a certain point. This is the computerized chatbot frustration with which most people are familiar today.

This is changing. In the recent past, people could always tell when they encountered a bot in a text chat or phone operating system. However, natural language processing (NLP) is getting better. NLP is the heart of modern human-computer interaction, and will eventually allow computers to understand human requests without humans having to phrase our requests in a specific format. For librarians, that means Boolean search format, or choosing the right keyword alternative to narrow down search results, or uncover a certain navigation menu.

Humans naturally want to communicate using natural speech, including colloquialisms, slang, various accents, and more. Computers are getting getting better at this because machine learning systems are improving. NLP is a subset of machine learning (ML).

Machine learning-based systems like chatbots learn from large sets of data. ML algorithms are designed to study large amounts of data and find patterns. The system learns from the information that is available, and will make predictions based on the patterns it finds in the data. Similar to how humans learn. We do the best we can with the information we have available at the time. Processes improve as information improves.

As you can imagine, machine learning systems are improving because our available data sets are improving. For example, the natural language processing system from Google has access to text conversations, voice assistant archives, email conversations and more. Is it any surprise that their NLP systems are one of the best?

With more data, the machine learning algorithms have better information and can make a more informed guess about what the person means with a certain request. For this reason, we can all expect chatbots to become more popular and take over more routine tasks. Taking orders in a restaurant, or scheduling meetings would be a prime example. There are already bots being refined to accomplish these tasks.

The chatbot I’m working on now does not use more advanced machine learning. It uses a rule-based system where I build a decision-tree and manually tell the system which pieces of information to draw from to answer specific questions. In a rule-based system, I have to have a much better guess as to what a customer will ask, and how people will want to interact with the bot to accomplish specific tasks.

After practicing with the rule-based system, I can explore a more advanced ML-based system. When starting with new technology, it always helps to walk before I run. The fall hurts less if I’m not going at break-neck speed. I’m using Dialogflow, powered by Google, if you’re curious.

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NCompass Live: Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals, and More!

Learn how you can start Feeding America at your library on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, November 6, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

Three-quarters of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in rural areas. This session will cover how public libraries feed America: 1) Distributing food at the library, 2) Teaching and supporting gardening, 3) Teaching how to prepare healthy food, and 4) Offering the library’s support to food programs (e.g. Farmers Markets). We will then go over how you can use the resources of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including its Cooperative Extension, Summer Food Service, 4-H, and Master Gardener programs. We will conclude with interactive discussion on how you can start feeding America at your library.

Presenter: Noah Lenstra, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science, University of North Carolina Greensboro and Director of Let’s Move in Libraries

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Nov. 13 – United for Libraries – Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations: The Voice for America’s Libraries
  • Nov. 20 – VoteLibraries 2020 – Thinking About Elections and Libraries Without Being Partisan
  • Dec. 4 – Libraries and the LGBT+ Experience
  • Dec. 11 – Librarian in Training – For Kids!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Augmented Books

Books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But they might be augmented! In fact, they already are. Check out this video from Quiver AR:

Quiver Augmented Reality is an app that can be downloaded for Android or iOS. Coloring pages can be downloaded and printed from Quiver’s website. There are a combination of free and paid options for coloring pages.

If you can color inside the lines, you can use this app. It’s a kid favorite, but fun for adults as well. Here are some quick setup tips and tricks:

  1. Go to http://www.quivervision.com/apps/ to download Quiver. Start with regular Quiver, then test out the others later.
  2. Download and print coloring pages: http://www.quivervision.com/coloring-packs/#
  3. Color!
  4. In the Quiver app, press “Packs” in the middle of the screen. Choose and download the image pack for the coloring page you chose.
  5. After downloading, press the “Butterfly icon” in the upper right corner to access the app.
  6. Press the “Butterfly” icon at the bottom to access the camera
  7. Aim your camera at the coloring page. (You may need to tap the screen to focus).
  8. Watch your freshly colored image come to life!
  9. Repeat steps 2-7 with other coloring page packs.

As simple as that, books can come to life! Now imagine how this can affect book publishing in the future. Picture books just got a whole lot more interactive. Textbooks can have better graphics for improved learning.

We can also pair books with the real world. Imagine the world as your coloring book. Start with a textbook, then pull the digital image into the real world. Learning is about to get a lot more interesting.

It’s time to change the way we think about books. Who said I have to choose between eBooks and print books? I want both. Let’s start asking different questions in the library. Change the game.

P.S. Email me at amanda.sweet@nebraska.gov if you want to find out how to build your own augmented and virtual reality worlds.

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – The Power of the Internet: Use it Wisely

The Power of the Internet – learn how to Use it Wisely on the next FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, October 30, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

New special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Perhaps you have noticed that teenagers have become one with their smartphone. Take away their phone and it’s like they just lost a limb. But is the internet good for more than just social media, meme generators, and finding craft inspiration? Why yes. Yes it is.

This session is about all the things the internet can do, and how your library can leverage internet-powered tools to bring people into the library. What are these magical tools? Here are some examples:

  • Buy things online to save time and money
  • Build or grow your business online
  • Search for jobs online
  • Develop new skills through online learning
  • Connect with friends and family
  • Spread ideas and inspiration
  • Find answers to common questions

In fact, there is an almost ridiculous number of things we can do online. That’s probably why teenagers are glued to their phones. It’s like a whole world inside a tiny, little box. This session is about the little things we can do as librarians to encourage patrons to use their digital world to improve real life. Let’s show people what’s possible through library events, curated information resources, and good old-fashioned conversations. It’s the librarian way.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Nov. 6 – Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals, and More!
  • Nov. 13 – United for Libraries – Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations: The Voice for America’s Libraries
  • Nov. 20 – VoteLibraries 2020 – Thinking About Elections and Libraries Without Being Partisan
  • Dec. 4 – Libraries and the LGBT+ Experience
  • Dec. 11 – Librarian in Training – For Kids!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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E-rate @ West Point

Have you registered for the upcoming E-rate workshops? In person workshops are still open for Grand Island (October 28), and Ashland (November 12). Registration information can be found here:

E-rate Workshops

Don’t worry if you miss (the workshop that is), as you can always register or view the online session. It’s the E-rate you don’t want to miss out on. You can also make it a full day and attend the afternoon Digital World session. For more information about the impact of E-rate, check out this week’s Adobe Spark video. Like the others, this was created using all free resources. This week’s story is from the John Stahl Public Library in West Point:

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NCompass Live: Nebraska Extension’s ‘Read for Resilience’ Program

Learn about Nebraska Extension’s ‘Read for Resilience’ Program on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, October 23, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

Nebraska Extension’s Learning Child team is a group of early childhood Extension Educators and Specialists who provide programming, training, and professional development to young children and their caregivers. Holly Hatton-Bowers, Amy Napoli, and Linda Reddish – members of the Learning Child team – will present a brief overview on Read for Resilience. The Read for Resilience program provides children’s books and accompanying storybook guides to support young children who have been affected by natural disasters. The aim of this presentation is to discuss opportunities for collaboration with libraries, including Extension-provided displays for the books and copies of the storybook guides. Extension educators are also available to provide workshops for families to learn about children’s emotional development while children engage in fun activities and book readings.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Oct. 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – The Power of the Internet: Use it Wisely
  • Nov. 6 – Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals, and More!
  • Nov. 13 – United for Libraries – Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations: The Voice for America’s Libraries
  • Nov. 20 – VoteLibraries 2020 – Thinking About Elections and Libraries Without Being Partisan
  • Dec. 4 – Libraries and the LGBT+ Experience
  • Dec. 11 – Librarian in Training – For Kids!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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The Homework Gap

The homework gap is a stubborn disparity in at-home broadband that hinders millions of students’ access to the array of online learning, collaboration, and research tools enjoyed by their better-connected peers.

The State of Nebraska recognized this disparity and in July 2018 the Governor and the Legislature created the Rural Broadband Task Force (RBTF) to research the problem and to formulate recommendations in a report initially due on November 1, 2019, and every two years thereafter. Nebraska public libraries were fortunate to be recognized by the RBTF as playing a vital role in providing free public Wi-Fi in rural communities. In particular, libraries serve K-20 students who are part of the “Homework Gap”, those who need access to the internet to complete assignments and check on their grades, but who do not have internet access away from school or campus.

Five of the six RBTF Homework Gap recommendations specifically mention public libraries and increased support to provide faster internet.

To learn more about the RBTF and their task (LB 994) to review “issues relating to availability, adoption, and affordability of broadband services in rural areas of Nebraska”, check out the main page on their website.

Please take a moment to view our Homework Gap video below. The video has sound, so make sure to turn yours on.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Dealing with Technology Frustration

Yesterday I spent two hours of my life trying to install and set up an app on my phone that is designed to control a small robot. Two hours. To install and configure an app. I went through every troubleshooting process known to (wo)man and could not get this confounded thing to work.

Throughout this process, I kept thinking it had to be something stupid I did. I forgot something. I missed a step. Maybe the device wasn’t compatible, even though it was on the recommended list. Did I mistype a password?

At the end of the day, I asked a friend to install the same app on their phone and try to control the little bot. It didn’t work. When I called customer service, I found out the app had been down for the past few hours and their servers should be back online in a few hours.

Cue Robot from Make Wonder

Honestly, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. It’s a tale as old as tech. The next day I installed the app and it took about five minutes. The little robot was up and running in no time, never having known how much time I spent trying to set up its controller. It zoomed along while I stared, dumbfounded, at my smartphone. Two hours.

Then I started laughing. I vowed to myself that no technology on the planet is ever worth that mental anguish. It’s not worth frying my circuits. Sometimes technology just doesn’t work right.

It’s nothing I did. It’s nothing you did. We’re not stupid. It’s just frustration at something we cannot control. A server halfway across the country that doesn’t even know we exist. Servers live in a binary world where things are either off, or on. There is little in between. Computers don’t care. They just do what we tell them.

So next time technology doesn’t work, take a step back. Turn it off and turn it back on again. Walk away and come back later. Sometimes tech doesn’t work because we made a small mistake. Other times, technology was just poorly designed and only another computer can understand what went wrong. More often than not, the server is just out of our control.

Technology breaks. It’s a fact of life. Sometimes all it takes is one day for everything to fall into place. Don’t give up on the tools that can help.

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E-rate Story

Special thanks to those public librarians who recently completed our technology and E-rate survey. As of today, we have received over 200 responses. While we are working on analyzing the results, here’s a little 2 minute video (see below), with special thanks to the Pawnee City Public Library. FREE tools were used to create this video using Adobe Spark. If you are interested in learning more about E-rate, consider attending one of the upcoming workshops:

October 21, 2019 – Columbus (Central Community College)
October 28, 2019 – Grand Island Public Library
November 5 – Online via GoToWebinar

The video has sound, so make sure to turn yours on. Here you go:

Posted in General, Information Resources, Library Management, Technology, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

NCompass Live: Innovation on a Shoestring – Free & Cheap Tools

Did you miss ‘Innovation on a Shoestring: Free & Cheap Tools’ at the ILA/NLA/NSLA Joint Annual Conference? No worries! You can watch it again on this week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar! Join us on Wednesday, October 9 at 10am CT.

Libraries everywhere are dealing with tight budgets and shrinking staff. Small and medium libraries are particularly hard hit by these issues. So, how are they maintaining a respectable level of technology and library service innovation with little or no money and staff? They are starting new programs, bringing in new resources, and developing new partnerships by harnessing the full potential of new internet tools, technologies, and websites. This session will highlight some very creative responses from small and rural libraries in middle America. Attendees will pick up some great ideas they can take back and use at their own library, no matter what the size, to provide innovative library services and programming.

Presenters: Louise Alcorn, Technology Services Coordinator, West Des Moines (IA) Public Library, and Christa Porter, Library Development Director, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Oct. 16 – Surviving and Thriving as an Accidental Librarian
  • Oct. 23 – Nebraska Extension’s ‘Read for Resilience’ Program
  • Nov. 6 – Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals, and More!
  • Nov. 20 – VoteLibraries 2020 – Thinking About Elections and Libraries Without Being Partisan
  • Dec. 4 – Libraries and the LGBT+ Experience
  • Dec. 11 – Librarian in Training – For Kids!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Call for Speakers: Big Talk From Small Libraries 2020

The Call for Speakers for Big Talk From Small Libraries 2020 is now open!

This free one-day online conference is aimed at librarians from small libraries; the smaller the better! We are looking for speakers from small libraries or speakers who directly work with small libraries. Small libraries of all types – public, academic, school, museum, special, etc. – are encouraged to submit a proposal. We’re looking for seven 50-minute presentations and five 10-minute “lightning round” presentations.

Do you offer a service or program at your small library that other librarians might like to hear about? Have you implemented a new (or old) technology, hosted an event, partnered with others in your community, or just done something really cool? The Big Talk From Small Libraries online conference gives you the opportunity to share what you’ve done, while learning what your colleagues in other small libraries are doing. Here are some possible topics to get you thinking:

  • Unique Libraries
  • Special Collections
  • New buildings
  • Fundraising
  • Improved Workflows
  • Staff Development
  • Advocacy Efforts
  • Community Partnerships
  • That great thing you’re doing at your library!

Big Talk From Small Libraries 2020 will be held on Friday, February 28, 2020 between 8:45 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (CT) via the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Speakers will be able to present their programs from their own desktops. The schedule will accommodate speakers’ time-zones.

If you are interested in presenting, please submit your proposal by Friday, January 3, 2020.

Speakers from libraries serving fewer than 10,000 people will be preferred, but presentations from libraries with larger service populations will be considered.

This conference is organized and hosted by the Nebraska Library Commission and is co-sponsored by the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, Grants, Information Resources, Library Management, Preservation, Programming, Public Relations, Technology, Youth Services | Leave a comment

E-rate/Digital World Training Days

The Nebraska Library Commission and the Regional Library Systems announce E-rate/Digital World Training Days!

There will be 2 workshops held on each date, E-rate: What’s New for 2020? in the morning and Thriving in a Digital World in the afternoon. Check-in will start a ½ hour before the morning session, with coffee and breakfast treats provided. There will be a 1 hour lunch break between the workshops – lunch is on your own. You can register for the morning workshop, afternoon workshop, or both. But, you do need to register for each workshop separately.

In addition, E-rate: What’s New for 2020? will also be offered online on Tuesday, November 5. Register for the online session

NEW DATE! November 12, 2019Ashland Public Library

Register for E-rate: What’s New for 2020? – 9:30am-12:30pm

Register for Thriving in a Digital World – 1:30-4:30pm

October 21, 2019Central Community College, Columbus

Register for E-rate: What’s New for 2020? – 9:00am-12:00pm

Register for Thriving in a Digital World – 1:00-4:00pm

October 28, 2019Grand Island Public Library

Register for E-rate: What’s New for 2020? – 9:30am-12:30pm

Register for Thriving in a Digital World – 1:30-4:30pm

October 29, 2019ESU 13, Scottsbluff

Register for E-rate: What’s New for 2020? – 9:00am-12:00pm

Register for Thriving in a Digital World – 1:00-4:00pm

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Easy Makerspace Projects

Every library should have a handful of quick and easy makerspace projects on hand. Here’s a quick list with resources for your reference:

Paper Circuits: A piece of paper, some copper conductive tape, a small battery, printable templates, and an LED light bulb is all you need to set up this project. Go to Makerspaces.com for paper circuit kits and instructions.

SparkFun also has kits and downloadable templates available.

Marble Run: Don’t lose your marbles! Just grab some craft sticks and a cardboard box to set up this fun marble maze. Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls has instructions and pictures.

Pom Pom Drop: Collect toilet paper and paper towel rolls, then grab some colorful tape and a cheap pom pom ball to make this cool project from Coffee Cups and Crayons.

Newspaper Projects: If you have some newspaper to recycle, try upcycling in these projects from Edventures with Kids!

Cardboard Loom: Try your hand at weaving with this cardboard loom from Instructables.

Microwave Ivory Soap: When in doubt, microwave your Ivory soap and watch it grow.

Check out these projects, then peruse the other projects available on these sites to find some quick and easy projects for the kids in your library!

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NCompass Live: Pretty Sweet Tech – Can Librarians Teach Robotics?

Can Librarians Teach Robotics? Find out on the next FREE NCompass Live webinar, on Wednesday, September 25, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

New special monthly episodes of NCompass Live! Join the NLC’s Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, as she guides us through the world of library-related Pretty Sweet Tech.

Robots have been relatively popular in library makerspaces and after school programs. But do we really know what a robot is and why we need robots in the world? Can librarians tackle robotics? If we’re going to teach robotics, this information can be helpful. This session will cover the following topics:

  • What is a robot?
  • How are they being used in the world?
  • Robots inspired by fiction and other fields
  • Which coding concepts can be learned from a toy robot?
  • Good robots to use in your library makerspace
  • Pros and cons to teaching robotics in the library

I’ve been teaching Lego Mindstorms EV3 for a few years now and have learned a great deal during the process. A great deal of this presentation also comes from consulting experts in the field at conferences, reading articles from technology-based organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), various TED talks, and a variety of other sources. Hopefully this inspires your library to pick up a robot and start playing!

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Oct. 2 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY ILA/NLA/NSLA!
  • Oct. 23 – Nebraska Extension’s ‘Read for Resilience’ Program
  • Nov. 6 – Feeding America: Gardens, Seed Exchanges, Summer Meals, and More!
  • Nov. 20 – VoteLibraries 2020 – Thinking About Elections and Libraries Without Being Partisan

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: Artificial Intelligence in the Library

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is powerful when it fades quietly into the background. AI-4-All, a non-profit organization with education programs for high school students, describes AI as “a branch of computer science that allows computers to make predictions and decisions to solve problems”. It’s simple, but it’s true. Ideally, AI would be used to solve problems like hunger, environment safety, safe drinking water, disease diagnosis, and crime stopping. In many cases, this is exactly how AI algorithms are used.

However, that is not how the average person is impacted by AI on a daily basis. Each day, our computers make predictions about our search terms, recommended spelling, phrasing in texts, and which products we might want to buy. Mostly the last one. The question is how these predictions are made. What factors go into the decision-making process?

Most importantly, what does this have to do with the library? Honestly, everything. Here’s a list:

  • Search Engine Rankings: When library patrons Google your library, an AI algorithm is used to determine which listings appear on the list. If you want the library to appear in searches for local events, you will need to know what Google’s algorithm is looking for in your listing.
  • Search Assistance: Librarians help people find information. A great deal of information is found behind search engines powered by AI. Know the tips and tricks to use Google, and find what Google can’t.
  • Privacy & Security: AI is fed by mass quantities of data. That data is generated by us. Every click, search entry, map location, post and video viewed can be tracked and fed into a user profile. Libraries can help people sort out where data goes and know their rights and responsibilities to keep themselves safe in a digital world.
  • Internet of Things: With devices being powered by the internet and generating more data, it is more important now than ever to lay a good foundation for data awareness and security.
  • Deep Fakes & Fake News: Unfortunately, both AI and humans are generating more fake news, fake comments, and all around bad things. Help people identify fake articles, videos, and comments.

Luckily, libraries are in a good place to tackle the information world. Let’s help our communities stay safe and well-informed.

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Technology and E-rate Survey

NLC is currently collecting data from Nebraska public libraries regarding technology and E-rate. If you have not yet responded to the survey, please take a few minutes (it should take around 5 minutes to complete) to submit your survey response. Your input is essential. Here is a link to the survey:

Technology and E-rate Survey Link

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NCompass Live: NLC Grants for 2020

Do you have a program or project you would like to see funded? Learn how to apply for the ‘NLC Grants for 2020’ on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, September 11, 10:00am-11:00am CT.

The Nebraska Library Commission has made funding available for four grants for 2020: Youth Grants for Excellence, Internship, Library Improvement, and Continuing Education & Training. Join Christa Porter, Sally Snyder, and Holli Duggan, from the Nebraska Library Commission’s Library Development Team, as they provide an overview of the grants, including eligibility requirements, the application process and grant review, timelines and deadlines. They will also share some tips on writing effective grants.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Sept. 18 – Coretta Scott King Book Awards: 50 Years Strong
  • Sept. 25 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Can Librarians Teach Robotics?
  • Oct. 2 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY ILA/NLA/NSLA!

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

Posted in Education & Training, Grants, Library Management, Now hiring @ your library, Programming, Technology, Youth Services | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pretty Sweet Tech: Tech Communities Need

Did you ever wonder what the tech is happening in the world? The thought crosses my mind often, but that may be a hazard of the trade. Technology is piling up faster, but what actually matters to us and our communities? How can technology be used as a tool to help people?

Why Would People Want to Learn?

The best place to start is to look at your community demographics. Are there more high school students, or older adults? Are adults trying to build skills for a changing future? Which technology do people already use? Is technology being used effectively?

When you have a better idea of who your library is serving, dig deeper into why technology is necessary. Here are some possibilities:

  • Do people want to build professional development skills?
  • Which professions are most common in the area?
  • Do parents want to learn how to help their kids?
  • Do people want to use digital tools for work?
  • Is your community using tech tools to improve public services?

We have reached a point where technology has extended to the full power of the internet. We use our devices to communicate, shop online, manage finances, learn new skills, create new content, share ideas, and more. Not everyone needs access to every corner of the World Wide Web. But the people who know what’s possible will thrive in a digital world.

So What is Possible?

Too much is possible. Trying to gather everything under the sun is an exercise in futility. The internet can do a paralyzing number of things.

Start by narrowing focus on one demographic and technology need at a time. Consider these examples:

Demographic 1: Parents helping kids use smartphones responsibly

Possibilities: Look at screen time balance, device safety and security, online predators, and learning how to learn online.

How Libraries Can Help: Gather digital literacy resources, including articles, infographics, and posters. Set up parent discussion groups with informational handouts. Possibly work with the local school to help parents keep up with changing technology.

Demographic 2: Adults who have been in the workforce, but want to learn new technology to keep current.

Possibilities: As technology grows more complex, people who did not have access growing up, or were not previously interested may wish to be exposed to new technology. Jobs may require new exposure as well.

How Libraries Can Help: Connect adults with resources to learn about emerging technology trends. Deloitte and Gartner’s Trends are good places to start. When people know what exists, they can decide for themselves if it is relevant to their current needs. Potentially, try a makerspace for interested patrons.

So What Does this Mean?

If you were looking for a one-size-fits all solution, I can’t give you one. It doesn’t exist. Technology is going to keep on changing, and we will all have to adapt as it happens. Apps and devices will change, but the underlying concepts will remain the same.

What are these concepts? Privacy and security concerns, communication skills, creative application of ideas, flexible learning and unlearning, online finance skills, cooperative learning, and staying healthy and well in a digital world. Those skills will extend outward to every bit of technology.

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Pretty Sweet Tech: How Do People Find Your Library?

Last weekend, I was looking for something new to do in the area. I grabbed my phone and searched for “events in Lincoln”. The downtown Haymarket website popped up, so did EventBrite, Meetup.com, the local newspaper, and the city of Lincoln website. That made me wonder, how do people find library events? Technology has changed the landscape here.

I’ve also gotten several questions recently about advertising events on the Nebraska Libraries on the Web sites. Often times we only put our events on the library website, or on flyers posted around the library. But that limits the number of people in the community who will consistently see event marketing. Only frequent library-goers will likely know about the event. Our library events have always competed for people’s time and attention. With the ease of finding events online, that competition has increased considerably.

What Can Libraries Do?

Start posting your events in multiple locations. Where do you and your staff go to find local events? Ask around to find out which websites people of different age groups are currently using. If attendance is low, it may be time to start advertising like the “competitors”.

Does this Cost Money?

Many of these sites allow local businesses and organizations to post for free. Meetup.com sounds like a dating website, but it is actually a great place to advertise local events, book club meetings, and community gatherings. Meetup.com has a $15 a month fee for organizers so it may not be worth it for a few events. However, if you can share costs between other city organizations, and Meetup.com is already known to be popular in your town, it may be worth the cost sharing!

Google Your City Events

Open the common search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.) and search for events in your city. What did you find? Reach outside the library walls to let your community know what’s up and coming in your library. You can use the same advertising graphics and wording across multiple websites to save time. This can especially come in handy if you go through Nebraska Libraries on the Web. Check that out if you’re a Nebraska library and want to start a new website or revamp your existing site.

 

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