Category Archives: Technology

Virtual Reality Uses and Pitfalls

For a while now, I’ve been gathering different resources about virtual reality and how it can be used in different industries. Here’s some cool collections of VR inspiration for your library:

Beyond Gaming: 10 Other Fascinating Uses for Virtual-Reality Tech (Live Science)

Applications of Virtual Reality (Virtual Reality Society)

25 Best Google Cardboard Apps for iOS and Android (Think Mobile) This is a good, low-cost way to test out VR if you’re just getting started. Just get a Google Cardboard for about $10 and download some apps on your phone.

If you’re looking for more advanced options, here are some things to watch out for as you’re searching for VR opportunities:

1. If you’re using a mobile app with Google Cardboard or another headset designed to use a smartphone as a screen, think about which smartphones you’re going to use. There will be different apps for iPhone and Android. Not all are created equally.

2. Using a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for smartphones to be used in headsets can be tricky. Some apps don’t work with different phone models. You might want a library device available for patron use when their own phone isn’t compatible.

3. When choosing a more expensive headset like the Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Playstation VR, or another headset, consider additional hardware expenses. Headsets like the Oculus Rift need to be hooked up to a computer with a really good graphics card. This graphics card can get pricey.

4. Not all games for the more expensive sets will work for every set. When games are designed, they are generally designed for a specific platform. So if you tested out National Geographic apps on Oculus Go, they won’t necessarily be available on every other headset. If you need a specific app, keep that in mind.

5. Many headsets have free options. You might want to start out with these and only add in a few paid options as you go along. This can keep costs down and allow your VR library to scale slowly.

VR is pretty awesome, so don’t let the potential pitfalls get in your way. It is just something to keep in mind as you’re choosing VR options and working out budgets. Feel free to email me at amanda.sweet@nebraska.gov if you have any VR questions.

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NCompass Live: Ethics Behind Emerging Technology

What are the ‘Ethics Behind Emerging Technology’? Find out from our Technology Innovation Librarian, Amanda Sweet, on this Wednesday’s FREE NCompass Live webinar.

In the presentation on February 13, I covered what emerging technology is and how it relates to libraries. Now it’s time to dive into what that means on a larger scale. What makes technology good or bad? Who is really qualified to make that determination? Anyone who tracks emerging technology will start to think about how this technology will affect the future of our communities and the world. What will make a piece of technology influential and powerful in the world? Tune in if you want to learn more about the following topics:

  •     Which ethics matter most in technology?
  •     What makes technology good or bad?
  •     What potential dangers should we be aware of with new technology?
  •     What factors might affect society in the long-run?

There are no easy answers to any of these questions. The concept of ‘ethics’ tends to be a gray area for many, and understandably so. This presentation won’t give you a finite right or wrong stance on all technology. But it will provide you with the tools to make the decision for yourself.

Presenter: Amanda Sweet, Technology Innovation Librarian, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • March 20 – Reading Diversely
  • March 27 – Health Education Resources with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine
  • April 10 – What is OER? Outstanding, Extraordinary Raw materials?
  • April 24 – Connect to Meetings, and more…Experts, Virtual Field Trips with Zoom

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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Where is the Humanity in STEAM?

A push to add Art to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning took storm a while ago. Then technology took over the world. But what about the humanities? The study of people is what made most technology possible. Ethnography, anthropology, psychology, linguistics, literature, and ethics are the driving force behind how and why technology is created, marketed, and how technology influences society as a whole.

Natural language processing would not be possible without breakthroughs in linguistics. Virtual reality games wouldn’t be very interesting without a good plot line to draw in gamers. Video game designers use psychology to study their target market and cater their product to the needs of the gamer. The internet is changing the way people think and interact with the world at large. To steer technology creation and use towards a positive impact on humanity, the humanities must be considered.

That is what we are doing with digital citizenship. We are asking people to look at how technology impacts themselves and others. We are asking people to look at the world today and ask themselves if their actions are making a positive impact on those around them. That is the core of ethics. What is the world today, and what do we want the world to be? How can we make a change towards the better? Can we agree on what makes life better, then work together to build a movement towards positive change?

Ethics teaches us to look at the complex nature of humanity and decide where we want to fit in the world. Are we making a positive contribution to our friends and community? What happens when everyone goes along with the status quo? What makes us do the things we do and how can we identify the need for change. Ethics.

Digital literacy will require us all to ask ourselves some hard questions. We are teaching kids to build an online identity that will make them look good to their friends and future employers. But what is their identity after they log off the computer? Making a positive impact in our small corner of the world means building introspection, empathy, and deciding who we are as individuals. How does an individual fit into their community? How does our community fit into the world? What can one human do?

There is no simple worksheet or lesson plan that will instill this thinking into growing learners. This will take large scale change in the world. It will mean looking at how technology affects us as individuals. It will mean guiding the use and creation of technology towards a greater purpose. There are no easy answers here.

Knowing how to use a tablet, a smartphone, a computer, and choosing the best device to suit your purpose is a good start. It opens doors to endless possibilities. But using that technology to shape yourself and the world into a better place is the real challenge.

The humanities are the beating heart of digital literacy. Humanity can exist without technology. But technology shouldn’t exist without humanity. And right now, it seems like the H in STEAM is silent.

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Upcoming Webinars from WebJunction

 

Strategic Planning in a Deeply Weird World: The Flexible Roadmap Field Guide Approach

DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, March 26, 2019:  2:00-3:00 CENTRAL TIME

REGISTER

Join us to learn about Salt Lake City Public Library’s new ground-breaking approach to strategic planning, focused on human-centered service design.

It’s a big task to define the library’s future over the next three or five years, and strategic planning is becoming less and less effective in a rapidly changing world. The Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) has created a new approach that is flexible, staff-driven, and human-centered. SCLPL’s Strategic Roadmap is not a 100-page plan in a binder-on-a-shelf; it’s an experiential learning tool that invites all staff to participate in the co-creation of meaningful outcomes and experiences for the community. The Roadmap focuses less on planning and more on building the capacity of staff to adopt a human-centered service design mindset and skillset. SLCPL staff are adopting a new perspective, continually experimenting with and adapting spaces, collections, services, programs, and their own roles, to responsively address community needs and aspirations in an ever-changing landscape. Join us for this webinar to learn how to cultivate new skills to help bring the Roadmap to life for your library’s strategic planning.

Presented by: Peter Bromberg, Executive Director; and Marilee Moon, Assistant Director of Customer Experience, at Salt Lake City Public Library

The Power of Small: How Rural Libraries Help Their Communities Thrive

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, April 18, 2019: 2:00-3:00 CENTRAL TIME

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Learn how any tiny library can find more ways to support the needs of their community by thinking strategically and creating new connections.

All libraries provide vital services to their communities, but libraries that serve small, rural populations have the potential to go beyond providing information and access—they can inject the vitality that will help their communities thrive. Addressing the challenges faced by rural areas may seem daunting to a library with few staff and limited resources, but any tiny library can find more ways to support the needs of their community by thinking strategically and creating new connections with their stakeholders, patrons, and other library staff. Learn how small library director and 2018 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, Allie Stevens, applied the concept of growth mindsets to set her priorities, use resources and volunteers smartly, and avoid burnout as a solo librarian. Follow her lead to turn your library into a powerhouse for your community.

This webinar is presented in collaboration with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries.

Presented by: Allie Stevens, Director, Calhoun County Library & Museum, Hampton, Arkansas

The Library as Social Connector: Forging Community Connection

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, April 25, 2019: 2:00-3:00 CENTRAL TIME

REGISTER

This webinar will explore how libraries play a role in creating social connection and identify ways to more intentionally facilitate stronger community bonds.

Strong social cohesion is a crucial factor in a community’s resilience in times of stress and disruption. Unfortunately, studies show that our communities are experiencing a steady erosion of social cohesion, pointing to an increase in loneliness, depression, and separation because of too much time spent online and too little time spent in the community. Libraries have the position and the power to rebuild social bonds, offering that sense of community and shared place that humans crave. Active learning programs that bring people together for participatory, shared experiences are a boost to community strength, but they could go even further to amplify social connection and build social infrastructure. Join us as we explore library programs through the lens of social possibilities and devise strategies to be more intentional about forging stronger community bonds.

Presented by: Betha Gutsche, WebJunction Programs Manager, OCLC; and Jennifer Peterson, WebJunction Community Manager, OCLC

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Raspberry Pi: An Expected Discovery

I’ve had a Raspberry Pi and a mess of electronics components sitting on my desk for several months. My original Pi plan was to demonstrate how Raspberry Pi could be used in a functional project that could be actively used in the library. So I set it up using Python Programming’s Raspberry Pi Tutorial series. I’ve dabbled in Python before, but not extensively. It was kind of fun to play in the terminal again.

For those who haven’t used Python or Raspberry Pi, the Pi is a little $35 computer. But you do have to add your own monitor, keyboard, mouse, power supply and SD card. I use ‘$35’ loosely here. The Pi also has a set of GPIO pins that will let you add on motors, sensors, LED lights, and various other bits of electronic goodness. Python is a programming language that can be used for robotics, computer programming, machine learning, and many other things.

If you Google ‘Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners’, you’ll get an overwhelming number of ideas. My problem was finding one that wouldn’t just be another cool thing sitting on my shelf. Finding the motivation to learn as an adult is drastically different than when you’re a kid. To devote the amount of time necessary to learn more complex electronics, I needed a project that would motivate and mean something to me personally.

Then I got to a tutorial in the series that told me to uninstall Wolfram Engine to save space. This isn’t the first tutorial that has recommended doing this, and nobody seemed to really know what Wolfram Engine is. So, being a good librarian, I looked it up.

From their website, “the philosophy of the Wolfram Language is to automate as much as possible, so programmers can concentrate on defining what they want to do, and the language will automatically figure out how to do it”. Stephen Wolfram explains it better in his explanatory video on the site’s homepage.

Anyway, the language is fascinating, but what really interested me were the demonstrations of use that were categorized by subject. The demonstrations on this page show how math can make the real world come to life in a visual, sometimes interactive, diagram.

I discovered that Wolfram can be used in machine learning. So I waded into Google’s Machine Learning Crash Course to learn more. After going through a good chunk of that crash course, I returned to the demonstrations available on Wolfram’s website and explored them through a different lens.

You can learn a lot about how artificial intelligence works by playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with AI Player. This player is found in the Life Sciences- Psychology section of the demonstrations. Machine learning looks for patterns the developer tells the program to look for and learn from. If you look in the “details” section below the player, you can see the factors that went into the algorithm behind the AI Player.

These factors are rooted in psychology. Other developers might place emphasis on different factors. This is a good reason to question the basis of machine learning algorithms. Depending upon the application for machine learning, we might all want to start looking deeper into the patterns these algorithms are told to look for in the data.

I digress. After returning to Wolfram, I then returned to the Pi. From a $35 computer, I discovered a fascination with machine learning. That led to a fascination with robotics and augmented reality. I returned to the Pi and still couldn’t find a project that really interested me for the library. It’s difficult to force learning when there is no real interest. But without the Pi, I would never have discovered a fascination with those other topics.

So what did I learn? Sometimes your learning outcome is drastically different from what you set out to learn. If you follow your natural curiosities and let them lead you where they may, you can discover a depth of passion that was previously unimaginable.

Given the right tools and information paths, your patrons could use the Pi to learn the basics of computing and pair it with other information sources and subject matter experts to create something the world has never seen. You can’t force learning, but you can encourage self-discovery.

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NCompass Live: Improving Internet Access In US Libraries: the ‘Toward Gigabit Libraries’ Project

Learn how to Improve Internet Access in US Libraries with the ‘Toward Gigabit Libraries’ Project on next Wednesday’s FREE NCompass Live webinar!

While much worthy attention has been paid to improving “last mile” connectivity for rural and tribal libraries, it’s the last 100 meters (the network inside the building) that is often overlooked and in need of improvement. The IMLS-funded Toward Gigabit Libraries project aims to address that problem through a self-service toolkit suitable for even the most novice of library workers. In straightforward, easy-to-understand language, the toolkit is designed to take lay people through technical concepts and tasks to create a Broadband Improvement Plan for each library. The plan is designed to help the library where it’s needed most – including improvements to hardware, software and configuration, suggestions for training and education, resources to advocate for better connectivity, and more. Fresh from the overwhelmingly successful pilot implementation of the toolkit in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, the presenters will share the results of the pilot, lessons learned, and how this free toolkit applies to libraries of all types and sizes.

Presenters: Carson Block, Library Technology Consultant; Holly Woldt, NLC Library Technology Support Specialist; Tom Rolfes, Education IT Manager, Nebraska Information Technology Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • March 13 – Ethics Behind Emerging Technology
  • March 20 – Reading Diversely
  • March 27 – Health Education Resources with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine
  • April 10 – What is OER? Outstanding, Extraordinary Raw materials?
  • April 24 – Connect to Meetings, and more…Experts, Virtual Field Trips with Zoom

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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Does Everyone Need to Learn Coding?

It has been well established that everyone can learn to code. But “coding” is a very broad term that can apply to a lot of different things. Coding skills are used in web development, robotics, software development, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet of Things, and much more. But if a student is going to become an artist, graphic designer, marketer, sports therapist, or any other profession under the sun, why do they need to learn coding? How will technology affect their chosen professions?

Honestly, many learners may never go in-depth into the coding process. But it helps to have the exposure. How does anyone know they like something unless they try it first? That being said, even if everyone doesn’t learn coding, they should know about technology. All of the tech I mentioned will have a huge impact on every profession. We’re already starting to see that happen.

Internet of Things is working towards making smart cities and communities. Machine learning is powering many popular search engines. Virtual reality is becoming more popular to train new employees across industries. Augmented reality is being used in manufacturing and other industries to label parts and pieces for assembly. That is just a drop in the bucket of examples.

Different professions are also inspiring the design and creation of new technology. There is now a robot that is folded like a piece of origami. When the material is heated, it unfolds itself. This is being used for internal medication delivery in experimental medicine.

The study of animal locomotion and biomechanics has been used in robotics for quite some time. If a robot needs to thrive in a desert, why not give it the attributes of an animal that thrives in the desert? Computer networking is inspired by how bees communicate.

Psychology and sociology comes in handy when designing a virtual world that will not harm the user, whether mentally or physically. Those two fields also comes in handy when marketing the finished product for commercial use. Historians and ethnographers may be interested in how technology has shaped or will shape individuals and society as a whole.

Long story short, everyone may not need to know coding, but  in the near future, every profession will likely need to collaborate with someone who does code. This means having knowledge of how technology works, how to break information down into steps, and how to provide useful information during the design and iteration process.

Having at least minimal understanding of HTML and CSS may go a long ways towards walking a mile in a coder’s shoes. Knowledge of how technology works will also help individuals seek new and innovative ways to help shape the future of their chosen profession. Learning ethical, responsible use of technology early on will help guide users towards positive applications of technology later in life. These decisions affect us all.

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Using Block-Based Computer Programming

If you’re looking for ways to introduce beginners to computer programming, block-based programming is a great place to start. These programming languages use graphical, drag-and-drop interfaces that make it easier to understand, develop, test, and tweak programs. In the case of Lego Mindstorms EV3 software, this program can control a robot made of Lego pieces that look similar to Knex pieces. Users just drag blocks into the programming area and change the settings to make the robot move, interact with sensors, display text or images on the screen, and more. This video made by Lego Discover will show you how to build your first program.

Lego Mindstorms is a more expensive option that the Library Commission uses through the Library Innovation Studios project. If your library wants to test out a powerful, free block-based programming interface, check out Scratch, made by MIT Media Lab. Scratch will let you program online stories, games, and animations. For free.

When learners want to expand their coding capabilities, they can transition over to text-based coding. Some good beginner options to look into are HTML and CSS coding to make a standard website from scratch. Add in Javascript to add more interactive features to the website. These links will send you to a YouTube video for freeCodeCamp.org, each video has a link to a written curriculum option as well.  There are a lot of other coding languages out there, but it’s difficult to choose a language until you know what you want to do with it.

Rather than get bogged down in which language to learn, libraries can focus on how to learn. The best thing we can all learn is how to break complex information into smaller, more manageable steps to learn from the ground up. After people learn how to think like a programmer, they can decide what they want to learn more about.  When people know where their interests lie, they can choose a program to suit their needs. Choosing a language without a purpose is a great way to quit before you start.

To encourage people to learn to code, try to connect them with good reasons to code. Technology is being used in multiple industries right now. People of any age or subject interest have a reason to learn programming. I will talk about more motivations to learn coding in future posts. Stay tuned.

 

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What is Digital Literacy?

Digital literacy has taken the library world by storm! What is digital literacy, you may ask. You will likely get a slightly different answer from every person you ask. The concept has also been called multiple literacies, technology literacy, 21st Century Skills, and similar.

What it all boils down to is that we are all trying to prepare students and all library patrons for the rapidly evolving digital world. There are 81 years left of the 21st Century. Nobody knows what the future will hold. But experts in digital and technology literacy have an educated guess as to the skills people will need going forward.

Here’s what the International Society for Technology in Education has come up with after working with a variety of leaders in education (excerpted from this table):

  1. Empowered Learner
  2. Digital Citizen
  3. Knowledge Constructor
  4. Innovative Designer
  5. Computational Thinker
  6. Creative Communicator
  7. Global Collaborator

For a description of what all of those mean, check out the ISTE Standard’s website. This will provide information for what students should know, how educators can prepare, and how coaches/ professional development assistants can prepare for the future. There is also information about Computer Science Standards on this website for those who want to dive a little deeper into the wonderful world of coding and the process of creating or adapting technology. Be forewarned, it’s a lot. And it won’t all happen overnight.

We all have a long way to go before we’re all ready for the rest of the 21st Century, but we’ll get there eventually. As we move forward into the technology revolution, take a moment to think about how much technology is too much technology. Be selective about what is probably just a fad and which tools might gain momentum and be worth your time and effort. Do the best you can, mistakes will happen, and the world will keep on turning. Keep in mind that just because a new technology exists, doesn’t mean we have to use it.

Students will still need to know how to use a paper and pen by the end of all this.  Soft skills and social skills will be more important than ever as people become tempted to isolate themselves in a digital world. It’s time to find a happy medium between digital and physical tools. We’re only human.

 

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E-rate: Form 470 Deadline and Online Resources

Just a reminder …. Wednesday, February 27 is the deadline to submit the first form in the E-rate process, Form 470, for the upcoming 2019 Funding Year.

The filing window for submitting the second form in the process, Form 471, opened on Wednesday, January 16, and will close at 11:59 PM EDT on Wednesday, March 27. This makes February 27 the deadline to post your Form 470 to the USAC website, meet the 28-day posting requirement for the competitive bidding process, and submit a Form 471 by the filing window closing date.

However, we do not recommend waiting until the last day to submit your Form 470! If there are any issues that day, like the E-rate servers are slowed down because it is the last day to submit, or you can’t submit the form due to reasons on your end, such as illness, weather, power outage, etc., then you would miss the deadline and lose out on E-rate altogether. So, get your E-rate process started and submit your Form 470 as soon as possible!

Do you need help completing your forms? Do you have questions about E-rate? You’re in luck!

USAC has Form 470 resources on their website:

And more recorded webinars, demos, and training materials are available on the NLC E-rate webpage.

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

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NCompass Live: What in the World Is Emerging Technology?

Join us for the next FREE NCompass Live webinar, ‘What in the World is Emerging Technology?’ on Wednesday, February 13, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.

We all know that technology trends are moving at light speed. The truth is that many of these trends are here one day and gone the next. Most of this technology also isn’t particularly relevant to the library world. This presentation will dive into how to identify emerging technology that might make an impact on libraries, now or in the future. Tune in if you want to learn more about the following topics:

  • What is Emerging Technology?
  • What are some examples of emerging tech?
  • How is this tech applicable to libraries?
  • What might library patrons want to know about emerging tech?
  • What can we tell interested patrons about these tech trends?

We will dive deeper into this topic on March 13 during a presentation about the Ethics Behind Emerging Technology.

Presenter: Amanda Sweet, Technology Innovation Librarian, Nebraska Library Commission.

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Feb. 20 – Crafting Relevant Community Partnerships Using Archives
  • Feb. 27 – Future Ready Nebraska and the Digital Learning and Ed Tech Plan
  • March 6 – Improving Internet Access In US Libraries: the Toward Gigabit Libraries Project
  • March 13 – Ethics Behind Emerging Technology
  • March 20 – Reading Diversely
  • March 27 – Health Education Resources with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine

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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Nebraska Library Commission Announces New Library Innovation Studios Partners

 

FOR IMMEDIATE Nebraska Library Innovation Studios LogoRELEASE:
10:15 AM CT on February 5, 2019

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Media Contacts:
Eric Maher, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1974
Tessa Terry, Nebraska Library Commission, 402-471-3434

 

Gov. Ricketts, Nebraska Library Commission Announce New Library Makerspaces

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Library Commission announced that nine new Nebraska libraries have been selected to host Nebraska’s Library Innovation Studios: Transforming Rural Communities makerspaces. They join 18 libraries previously chosen in 2017.

“This partnership demonstrates how our Nebraska communities can use technology and education to empower community residents to create, learn, and invent,” said Governor Ricketts. “By expanding the skills of the workforce in our communities, supporting entrepreneurs, and encouraging lifelong learning, this partnership reinforces our vibrant business climate and supports community development.”

The Nebraska Library Commission was awarded a National Leadership Grant of $530,732 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for this partnership project with the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), Nebraska Innovation Studio, Nebraska Extension, Regional Library Systems, and local public libraries.

The project uses Library Innovation Studios makerspaces hosted by public libraries to support community engagement and participatory learning experiences by providing access to technology and innovative learning tools not readily accessible locally. This is expected to stimulate creativity, innovation, and the exchange of ideas to facilitate entrepreneurship, skills development, and local economic development.

The newly selected library partners that will host one of the four rotating makerspaces are:

• Kimball Public Library
• Beatrice Public Library
• Hastings Public Library
• Chadron Public Library
• Blue Hill Public Library
• Hastings Memorial Library, Grant, Nebraska
• Plainview Public Library
• Verdigre Public Library
• Laurel Community Learning Center

They join those selected in October 2017:

• Plattsmouth Public Library
• Ainsworth Public Library
• Ashland Public Library
• Crete Public Library
• Loup City Public Library
• South Sioux City Public Library
• Neligh Public Library
• Broken Bow Public Library
• Bridgeport Public Library
• Norfolk Public Library
• North Platte Public Library
• Ravenna Public Library
• Lied Scottsbluff Public Library
• Sidney Public Library, Special Model Program Partner
• Wayne Public Library
• Geneva Public Library
• Central City Public Library
• Nebraska City Public Library

Five more libraries will be selected through a final application opportunity with a March 29th deadline. All Accredited Public Libraries in communities of populations of less than 25,000 population are eligible.

This project began July 1, 2017 and will conclude June 30, 2020. For more information about the project or equipment that will be featured in the rotating makerspaces, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/grants/InnovationStudios.

“Nebraska’s public libraries are the natural gathering points for people to come together to share materials, knowledge, and experiences,” said Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner. “Whether the materials and tools are high tech or low tech, digital or analog, art or science, the focus is to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using the tools, materials, and knowledge available. Libraries have always been dedicated to community partnership, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas—makerspaces are the next step in that progression.”

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

Nebraska’s Regional Library Systems are four non-profit corporations governed by boards representative of libraries and citizens in the region. Systems provide access to improved library services by facilitating cooperation among all types of libraries and media centers within the counties included in each System area.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Their mission has been to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. For the past 20 years, their grant making, policy development, and research has helped libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Nebraska Innovation Studio—the UNL makerspace—is the creative and collaborative hub of UNL’s Nebraska Innovation Campus, where makers and builders team up to conceptualize, prototype, and iterate projects that solve problems and influence change. The primary focus is on creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship, and education.

Nebraska Extension is one of three components of UNL’s land-grant mission. It is a dynamic educational organization that puts research to work in local communities, businesses, and individuals’ lives. Extension professionals are recognized for subject matter competence, excellent teaching skills, and community presence. They live and work in Nebraska communities across the state and engage with local and state partners in educational program delivery to address critical issues identified by constituents.

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

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2019 Big Talk From Small Libraries Schedule Now Available

The full schedule for the 2019 Big Talk From Small Libraries online conference is now available!

You will find it on the Schedule page. Information about our presenters is available on the Speakers page.

If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time to jump over to the Registration page and sign up!

You are welcome to watch as an individual or to host a group viewing of the conference. If several staff members from the same library want to attend, you can just register for one seat and have staff members view/listen together via one workstation.

You can also host a viewing party this same way and invite staff from other libraries. For any group viewings, if you know who will be there, you can list your Additional Attendees on your one registration or you can send us a list after the event.

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To Sync or Not to Sync?

Have you ever opened Google Chrome on your smartphone and filled out a form online? Then when you got home, did you try to fill out another form and have the blanks automatically fill in? That wasn’t an accident. When you sync your devices or accounts together, Google is able to share information between those devices. Sometimes this is helpful. Other times, not so much.

Google is very transparent about which types of data it collects: https://safety.google/privacy/data/. This site will give you a rundown of the types of data that are stored and how Google says they use the information. There are just a couple points I want to touch on here.

1. When you download Google Chrome, it will ask if you want to sync your Google account to this particular browser. When you’re on a home or personal computer, this can be helpful. But if you’re loading Chrome on a work or shared computer, you don’t necessary want everyone using that computer to have access to your Google search history, photos, personal information, and anything stored in Google’s information banks.

If you’ve already synced Google Chrome at work with your Google accounts at home, fear not! Here are instructions to unsync your accounts. With just a few clicks, you can make your forms stop autofilling your home address.

2. The other quick tidbit is about using Google Docs at home and at work. Feel free to make two separate accounts through Google docs. Then you can remove your home account from your work account. Here’s how to delete your Google Account Information from a device.

Protecting patron search and material use history is important in libraries. Librarians should have the same protections! Remember, your privacy is your own.

 

 

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E-rate Form 471 Application Filing Window Now Open

The Form 471 application filing window for Funding Year 2019 opened today at noon EST and will close on Wednesday, March 27 at 11:59 pm EDT. You may now log on to the E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and file your FCC Form 471 for FY2019.

This makes Wednesday, February 27, the deadline to post your Form 470 to the USAC website, meet the 28-day posting requirement for the competitive bidding process, and submit a Form 471 by the filing window closing date.

However, we do not recommend waiting until the last day to submit your Form 470! If there are any issues that day, like the E-rate servers are slowed down because it is the last day to submit, or you can’t submit the form due to reasons on your end, such as illness, weather, power outage, etc., then you would miss the deadline and lose out on E-rate altogether. So, get your E-rate Form 470 submitted as soon as possible!

IMPORTANT: Before you file your Form 471, check your Form 470 Receipt Notification for your Allowable Contract Date – the first date you are allowed to submit your 471. Do not submit your 471 before that date! Remember, after you submit your Form 470, you must wait 28 days to submit your Form 471. Note: This Notice is now emailed directly to you. You can also find it within the EPC portal in your News feed.

Do you need help completing your forms? Do you have questions about E-rate? You’re in luck!

USAC has Form 471 resources on their website:

And more recorded webinars, demos, and training materials are available on the NLC E-rate webpage.

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

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Facebook Login on Third-Party Sites

Facebook for Developers imageHave you ever been on a website that asks you to login using Facebook? This usually appears as a quick one-click button that lets you link this app to Facebook so you don’t have to manually enter a lot of your own information into the new website. So how do websites get this button on their website?

It’s surprisingly easy. Take a look at the Facebook Login Overview on Facebook for Developers. Any website can use the Login if they only need access to a user’s public profile and email address. The overview states that “to ask for any other permission, your app will need to be reviewed by Facebook before these permission become visible in the Login Dialog to the public who’re logging into your app with Facebook”.

Looking at their App Review process, apps have to submit a request on a feature by feature basis and match that request to the product offered on their site. Businesses also need to verify their business identity. Businesses also have to sign a usage agreement.

That is somewhat reassuring, but let’s rewind a bit here. Any business, verified or unverified can use this Login feature to gain access to the public profile. Think about what’s on your public profile: a cover photo, gender, networks, schools attended, age range, language, country, and any information that appears on public searches. Imagine what companies can do with some of this information.

Some of these third-party websites may also sync up with Facebook to post some of the information from their app on your profile’s timeline. For example, Goodreads is a very popular website among librarians. Depending on how you set up your Goodreads account, you may have given Goodreads permission to automatically post your completed books to your timeline. Do you want all of your Facebook friends to know everything you read?

If you’ve already accidentally synced an app with your Facebook profile, there are usually ways to undo or change the settings. Here’s Goodread’s Help page if you want to take a look at the permission shared between Goodreads and Facebook. They also provide information about how to adjust the settings.

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Drones in the Library!

One day, drones may deliver library books to home bound library patrons. That day may come sooner than you’d think.

Drones are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and can be controlled remotely or fly autonomously through the use of a pre-programmed flight plan. These drones use sensors to control their flight path and to collect various types of data. This data can range from weather information to chemical emissions to a collection of photographs.

Today, drones are being used in the military, by landscapers, construction workers, farmers, artists, researchers, and just about every industry known to man. So how are they being used in the library? Here are a few examples:

Drones on Loan: People want to learn about drones and take them for a test drive. The Arapaho Library has 4 copies of a Hover Camera Passport Drone available in their regular catalog. Georgia Highlands College has a similar system in place. If you would like to replicate this in your library, try testing out demonstrations with one drone and gather patron interest. If there’s interest, it might be time to update your loan policy to cover damage and incidentals on a drone for loan!

Delivery Drones: Right now, Amazon is pilot testing a delivery drone. Their website says their drones are “designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles” using Prime Air. It’s not hard to imagine how these could come in handy for libraries one day.

Drone Demonstrations: You can also do some drone demonstrations in the library. This might take a bit of practice to get the controls down, but it’s definitely possible! It’s quite probably you could find an enthusiastic patron who has experience that might want to teach a few classes in the library.

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Augmented Reality in the Library

The best way to learn about augmented reality is to use it. The easiest and most cost-effective way to experiment with augmented reality (AR) is with an app. AR uses the camera from a smartphone or tablet to take in information from your surroundings.

The information is fed into an app and that app can be programmed to superimpose images, audio, or other computer generated media when a trigger point is reached. That trigger point can take the form of a specific object, a longitude and latitude registered via GPS, or a person’s face. Here are a few examples you might want to try in your library:

Pokemon Go: This one is incredibly popular across multiple age groups. It uses GPS on your phone to pinpoint location, your smartphone camera takes in images, and the app superimposes Pokemon at specific GPS location. So if you see someone walk into a tree with their phone held out in front of them, it’s possible they were trying to catch Pokemon.

BBC Civilisations AR: This app was made by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). They selected 40 different historical objects from famous museums and developed this app to allow people from around the world to project and explore there objects in their own home. They hope to gain user feedback to improve their project, so feel free to let them know what you’d like to see from an app like this in the future.

Metaverse: This augmented reality platform will let you try building your own AR app for free! They have plenty of walk-through tutorials to get you started with programming different images, animations, and interactive library games to pop up throughout your library building and surrounding area. Have fun exploring!

Google Expeditions: Of course Google has some AR apps. They also dove into AR platforms. Google Expeditions is designed to allow users to explore and learn more about different world landmarks, weather phenomenon, hard-to-reach locations, get up close and personal with animals, and digitally explore the world. Just a heads up that this app has VR and AR options. The VR side has had mixed reviews with compatibility issues for different headsets. The AR has better reviews, but takes a bit of practice to implement.

 

 

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What Robots Can’t Do

Nowadays, many robots are infused with artificial intelligence (AI). It may seem like robots can do anything, but they really can’t.

As librarians, this is good information to have. Some libraries help patrons with professional development. Help steer them towards  jobs that robots will not likely be able to do in the near future, if ever. To do this, it helps to first know what AI is and how it works.

AI is basically software that writes itself and can perform particular tasks. AI has a learning curve. Quite literally. The new machine must be trained by a large amount of data so it can detect the correct patterns and replicate the correct action(s). In the beginning, a human operator might supervise this machine and take note of any mistakes made. These mistakes will be logged and a new set of data will be fed to the AI software to correct the mistakes. This process is repeated until the machine is operating correctly in an unsupervised setting.

Let’s use the example of self-driving cars. There are several variables that go into driving. The car would have to be fed lots of information, including how to detect a stop sign. But if the car was only fed images of stop signs during the day, it might miss stop signs at night.

Needless to say, AI has a long way to go. It is powerful and has great potential, but it can’t do everything. Bernard Marr estimates that AI will take over “receptionists, telemarketers, bookkeeping clerks, proofreaders, delivery couriers, and even retail salespeople” (7 Job Skills of the Future (That AIs and Robots Can’t Do Better Than Humans).

But robots can’t feel. They may appear creative at times, but they are just programmed. Robots will never be the underdog that sees impossible odds and decides to try it anyway. Robots will never truly care about people. If patrons walk in asking which jobs are going to be safe from robots, steer them towards cultural preservation, emotion/ empathy based jobs, and creative problem-solving with human interaction. Humans will also be necessary to build, maintain and improve upon robots and AI.

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Internet of Things Compatibility

I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) being tossed around recently. Basically, IoT is a network of interconnected devices that can communicate with one another. If a device has WiFi capability and sensors applicable to the device’s purpose, that device is able to be part of IoT.

As you dive deeper into the wonderful world of IoT, you will quickly discover that not all devices that are marketed as “smart devices” will be compatible with one another. Some of you may have discovered this with the Amazon Echo system. The Echo uses Alexa, their natural language processor, to accept spoken commands to control connected devices.

CNET put together a list of devices that are compatible with the Echo. You might notice that many of these devices are either made by Amazon or have “Alexa” in the description. This means the Echo is leaning towards being a proprietary device, it favors items that are made and specifically designed for its own system. Many companies do this, not just Amazon. Hopefully cross-compatibility will be more popular eventually, but not just yet.

Long story short, as you’re incorporating IoT devices into your home or library, choose a reasonably priced brand, then carefully check compatibility with your chosen brand before making any purchases. A little prior planning can go a long way to save time and money!

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