Thursday, April 16, 2015


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


Bohyun Kim is the Associate Director of Library Applications and Knowledge Systems

We are in the second machine age. Economic growth is going up, but not wages or employment. Employers use technology to hire fewer employees and expect those they do hire to be skilled and work well with machines.

Employees are expected to manage and train themselves, and to take all the responsibility for failure. Artists and authors have to do their own publicity. We exploit ourselves by taking calls and voicemails at home. In a sense, we are all expected to be entrepreneurs. Social media can bring us together to help others- but giving the guy who has to walk 21 miles to work  $300,000 to buy a car doesn’t address systemic transportation problems. The so-called “sharing economy” is not about sharing freely, but about capitalizing on one’s assets. It’s not an option for poor people who don’t have nice cars or homes. Most “makers” are already knowledgeable and tech-savvy.

In this harsh world, the library has a great role to play by bridging the digital divide. Education is key to employment, and employers don’t want to do on-the-job training. People have to become self-directed lifelong learners to stay employed.

Libraries can teach critical learning. We can pay attention to technology and use it in a way that makes things better, not worse. Most of us live in a “filter bubble” where we only interact with those with similar views, but the library can bring diverse people together, e.g. the Human Library project. As a place where the drive for money and power as an end in itself is questioned, the role of the library is never apolitical.

This was a great talk, I encourage everyone to watch the whole thing if they can, or read this blog post based on her notes.

Tech Tuesdays: Taking Time to Teach Technology to Technophobes

E-books are proving to be very popular at the L.E. Phillips Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin - over 43,000 Overdrive downloads in 2014 with a population of 67,000, plus they have Overdrive Audio, Freading and circulating iPads with library apps pre-loaded.

There is lots of interest in technology in the community, but questions come up that can't be answered in a few minutes on the public desk.

Three types of patrons with technology questions:

1. I want you to do it
2. I can do it myself if you get me started.
3. I want to learn, but I'm nervous and afraid I'll break it.

To help people in the third category, they created Tech Tuesdays. The got the word out on flyers, public radio and the newspaper. Besides e-books, they address social media, the cloud, and photo management.

Tips for technology training:

  • Address limitations in what library can and cannot address on the flyer - have to create reasonable expectations- we can’t figure out their Apple ID.
  • Use positive language to convince the technophobes they can do it.
  • Learn everyone’s name and use it.
  • Pair patrons who are getting it quicker with those getting it slower.
  • Have two staff to help people who fall behind.
  • If there is a conflict between those who want help right away and those who want a presentation, divide them into two groups.
  • Collaborate with places that fix computers -send patrons to them, and ask them to send people who need more instruction.

Digital literacy resources:

Form, Function, and the Right Tools: Effective Publications for the Accidental Designer:

When Trent Brager was a student worker at the College of St. Catherine’s, one of his first jobs was making a map of the library. Without any graphic design software, he ended up making it in Powerpoint. Like Trent, many of us are jumping into graphic design without tools or training.

The goals of a flyer are to get  the viewer's attention and provide information.

Tips for flyer design:

  • Think of location - how far is the flyer from the viewer? Will it make them want to come closer?
  • Pick a color and font to match the mood of a poster -- please, please, please think hard about using the Comic Sans font for anything except children’s and/or graphic novel programs.
  • Think in terms of the whole page- - squint to see how the whole picture looks.
  • Choose fonts for readability - all caps and narrow fonts are harder to read, fonts with serifs can be distracting.
  • Think of the shape, texture and rhythm of your text box.
  • Create contrast between font and background.
  • Use complementary colors with the same value to make your flyer vibrate
  • Use white space - let your flyer breathe
  • Keep it simple - not everything needs to be on the flyer.

Resources for the accidental designer:

Colorhexa - helps you pick out complementary colors.
So You Need a Typeface - flowchart for choosing fonts.
Trends Brager’s videos on Publisher, Microsoft Paint, finding free fonts and clip art on the web and other design tips.

Handouts are available here.

--Andrea H.@GLCL


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Keynote: Courtney Greene McDonald, Indiana University

What does it mean to be a user- centered library? You are not your user. Try to see the library from their point of view - how many systems do they need to go through to get what they need?

Five characteristics of user centered librarians:

1. Be curious- ask people why they do things. If the answer is not the root cause, ask again. The root causes are almost always about people, not technology. Asking the right questions is the way to solve problems.

2. Be kind - people ask the kind person before the smart person for help. Patrons are often anxious when they come to the library - how can we relieve their anxiety?

3. Be trusting - share information, don't  reinvent the wheel. Libraries need a shared repository of beginner’s tutorials. You never know how patrons may use your information- e.g. Hathitrust was getting a lot of use from people reading boat-repair manuals on mobile devices. Patrons’ mental models are formed by Google and Amazon.

4. Be positive - think about what can go right.  You know something is used if you are getting complaints. Listen to music that makes you happy.

5. Be brave - as they say in business, “Just ship it!” Collecting & analyzing data is not enough - you have to actually do something with it. Time is not on our side. User-centered organizations are biased towards action rather than research. Something becomes effective when it becomes part of the community.


Library as Publisher
“The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” - R. David Lanke

Libraries are looking to be producers as well as consumers.  As part of their mission to support lifelong learning and preservation, they are becoming content creators.

Librarian skills that carry over to publishing:

  • Knowledge of copyright
  • Project management
  • Standards expertise
  • System design and usability

Macalester College Library sort of backed into digital publishing, although once they started they did so full-throttle. They had been a depository of student honors projects, the alumni magazine, and in-house journals. As demand for digitization grew, they scanned the print collection. When a publication of the Anthropology department was dropped by the publisher, the library took on its publication as a born-digital journal.

Later, a professor approached them with an idea for an interactive book. It was published incrementally on a blog. Members of the public commented with their own stories, which led the author to re-write chapters.

Publishing is a form of collaboration - editing and reviewing, marketing, layout, distribution, sales. It takes a village. Staff took Indesign classes at the Science Museum. It was hard to find a good method of communication - they ended up emailing .pdf’s back and forth.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” -Arthur Ashe

Tips for libraries as publishers:

  • Create a style guide as your team may change over time.
  • Communication is key - send out weekly updates.
  • Collaboration tools - may use Dropbox in the future
  • Leverage existing expertise.
  • Have to learn enough of copyright to give authors advice.
  • Become familiar with Creative Commons.
  • Learn about the new digital publishing environment: Wordpress, Blogger, Kindle Direct Publishing, iBooks Author .
  • Think about how you will keep items permanently available as technology changes.
  • Give yourself permission to fail.
  • Celebrate success.

Possible publishing projects for public libraries

  • Oral histories - StoryCorps.
  • Neighborhood histories.
  • Local news - lots of local papers have ceased.
  • Open educational resources for homeschoolers.

Digital Collection Processing, Access, Preservation: Solutions for a Small Budget

The Northern State University Library in Aberdeen, South Dakota joined a consortium of seven libraries to showcase their historical collections on the web. Staff joined listservs, went to training, and read a lot on digital collections.

Technology used:

  • Scanners
  • Cameras
  • A special board to hold up large maps

Software used:

ContentDM ($$$$)- digital depository from OCLC (also used by Minnesota Digital Reflections) -handles storage and allows batch uploading and processing -  they got a grant to pay for it. .
Adobe Acrobat Pro  ($449)- for combining photos- has OCR to make text editable.  
Omeka (free)- makes the web site more appealing with pre-made themes.
Photoshop ($20/month)- for cropping, rotating and stitching photos
Global mapper ($300) - for making maps interactive -patrons can click on sections.
Openrefine (free) - “Photoshop for metadata” - cleans up messy data.

They now have 3TB of born digital materials and 900 GB of scanned materials, all backed up on hard drives for safety, and they keep scanning as they go. The project fulfills their goal of enhancing access. It led to a lot of positive publicity in newspapers, television and radio.


  • IT doesn't always have time to help
  • Copyright - patrons have to contact the owner to get permission to use photos

3-D Printing @ the Public Library & Maker Technology Show-and-Tell

Hennepin County Library currently has seven 3-D printers. They have had trainings for staff throughout the system, and also have a Teen Tech Squad  who teach 3-D printing. They find 3-D printing classes encourage patrons to connect with one another and help each other. One good patron story they had- two women with a small business had a part missing on their knitting machine, which they were able to recreate on the 3-D printer.

Why 3-D printing?:

  • Teens need to catch up in STEM - United States is behind.
  • It gets girls interested in STEM- good female attendance of programs.
  • Many schools have them now, but adults don't have access unless they pay.

What you need:

  • A 3-D printer - HCL likes the Makerbot brand.
  • Plastic filament - ABS is recyclable, PLA is biodegradable.
  • Software- HCL finds Sketchup easy to use, and it is free for educational use.


  • 3-D printers break down fairly often - all printers have never been working at the same time.
  • Sometimes a certain color filament just stops working.
  • May have to tweak design if it's not 3-D printer friendly.
  • May have to lower patron's expectations - just because it looks good in Sketchup, doesn't mean it will print well.
  • Safety - it is melting plastic - haven't found issues with fumes so far, but you need a little space.
  • Need 3 to 1 student to teacher ratio.
  • Have to leave time to print -sometimes patrons have to come back the next day.
  • Sketchup requires username and password, which can be problematic for kids.

New and interesting technology at the Maker Show and Tell:

  • Up mini 3-D printer ($599) -much cheaper than other 3-D printers, but pretty slow
  • Raspberry Pi ($20-35)- microcomputer that fits in an Altoid tin - powerful as a mediocre smartphone -can teach computing or be used for digital signage.
  • Arduino - ($15-180) - teaches electrical engineering and basic programming - have to wire up sensors & tell it what to do- can be used for home automation or making robots - requires materials such as wires, motors, diodes, etc.
  • Library Box ($150-200)- can create a special wi-fi network and put content on it .
  • Google cardboard  ($15 and up) - connect to any Android phone to create a virtual- reality environment.

Handouts are available here.

--Andrea @GLCL

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Designing a Sensitive Storytime: Supporting Families Living with Autism

Designing a Sensitive Storytime: Supporting Families Living with Autism

This past Friday MELSA hosted a presentation by the Center for Engaging Autism on Designing a Sensitive Storytime.     

The Center for Engaging Autism is an organization that seeks to connect families living with autism with information, support, and strategies they need to fully engage in their homes, schools, and communities using research, practice, and day-day living. This organization created this training  to help train youth librarians in awareness and techniques to enable them to engage families living with autism in literacy activities. Literacy is often an area that people on the autism spectrum struggle with. Despite often having great memories and sometimes an ability to read words at an early age, most on the autism spectrum have a hard time with comprehension, generalizing, and analysis. This training was made possible with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education using federal funding, CFDA 84.027A, Special Education- Grants to States, because Literacy Matters!) and was done in consultation with staff from Hennepin County Libraries.

Why a Sensitive Storytime?

*To let families living with autism know there is a place for them in the library because these families often feel they are on the outside and that the library is only for people who can sit still and engage in "typical" ways
*To help families whose members struggle with elements of literacy learn strategies to teach literacy skills
*To increase the library's impact on literacy in the autism community

Autism Awareness

*Defecits in social communication and interaction
*Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities
*Some things families with autism wish you knew

How Children with Autism Think and Learn

Processing/Rote Learning

*Autism is believed to be related to brain circuitry, connectivity

*May have difficulties with processing, process information at much slower speeds. One of the speakers commented that it is as if the person's communication input and output are all being handled through one rotary phone.

*People living with autism may display excellent rote memory skills which allows learning whole words, reading repetitive and predictable books (can mask comprehension difficulties)

Some books that offer repetition and and predictability are: Banana, Moo, Move Over Rover, Froggy Gets DressedBrown Bear, Brown Bear, Where the Wild Things Are

The speakers discussed that repetitive, predictable books are a great way to engage kids who are on the autism spectrum and that it is okay then to throw in some that have a twist as a way to build flexibility. 

*Children with autism may have a preference for visual representation pictures

*Visual information can help improve understanding

*Visuals/pictures can help develop pre-literacy skills

*Visuals help to develop meaning to words/text

*Visuals can help keep kids engaged in reading

Some books that may appeal to visual learners in storytimes are: The Snowman, and Not a Box

Central Coherence

*Central coherence is the ability to process pieces of information (details) to get the big picture and the meaning

*Youth on the autism spectrum tend to get stuck on the details and have trouble picking out the main idea

*Can help kids to see general meaning by expanding on details. For example, one child felt the most important part of Pinnochio was that his nose grew. This could be expanded by talking about what it means when Pinnochio's nose grows to help lead to the main idea, the meaning.

Joint Attention

* Joint attention (See presentations: Adaptations..and Adapting and Early Literacy...) is sharing mutual interest and enjoyment with another person.

*Maintaining joint attention may be difficult for a child on the autism spectrum

*Dialogic reading is an activity that promotes joint attention

Some books that could be used for building joint attention are The Napping House and Just Go to Bed.

 *Kids with autism typically experience a slower response to learning from watching and observing others.

*Typically it is harder for these kids to learn through imitation and easier through direct teaching

*It is harder for children on the spectrum to read people's minds or deduce through observation

*Dialogic reading helps break down this process through observation/practice/imitation.

Theory of Mind

*Research findings indicate children with autism have difficulties with understanding the perspective of others (their thoughts, feelings, desires, and intentions)

*According to a study by Kidd and Costano theory of mind can improve through reading of literary fiction.

*Young readers can practice social skills through reading. They can learn through characters, imagining themselves in different situations.

Some books that may be used are: Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Brambly Hedge Books, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Little Bear, Banana, and Skippyjon Jones 

Storytimes provide opportunities for improvement in areas of autism: 

*Joint attention

*Getting the big picture-Central coherence

*Social and language development

Sensory Issues

*In kids on the spectrum the senses (including proprioceptive (sense of where body is in space and how to respond to external input) and vestibular (balance) can be over/under sensitive. When under sensitive, may seek input, when over sensitive may shut down, avoid input.

*Sensory processing issues can cause kids on the spectrum to have a fear of the unknown and prefer routine, have motor planning (knowing how to get somewhere, how to do something) issues, have unexpected behaviors (noise-may avoid it, may produce it), wandering, varying levels of attention

*If a child is not looking at you, covering his/her ears, he/she is probably still processing. The fact that he/she isn't wandering/running off, means that he/she is making an effort to be there and is likely working on blocking out other sensory input in order to do so.

*Joint attention may be easier at first if children do things side by side instead of directly interacting with each other

*Children on the spectrum have delayed processing/response, give time to participate (motor planning of speech, handwriting can lead to delayed response)

*Shifting attention can be challenging, give them time, help cue when shifts will occur

*Redirection can help when stuck thinking occurs

*Provide a dedicated space for story time that gives visual cues as to where one should sit and where activities will occur

*Minimize distractions

*Have a list of welcoming rules (some suggestions: It's okay to come and go, it's okay to bring a stuffed animal, it's okay to go to the calming area or to leave and come back, etc...)

*Have a clear entrance/exit so that families can come and go as needed without having to worry about getting in someone's way

*Have a space for getting away from the crowd-bean bag chairs, pop-up tent, blanket over a table may be helpful-a space to regroup, to hide but still have a view of what is going on

*May consider whether could host storytimes before/after the library is open so that families can come at a calmer, quieter, less distracting time

*white noise machine and/or soft repetitive music may help block out background noises or having noise cancelling headphones may help

*Visual schedules (word and pictures) listing what will happen during storytime can be helpful. Can put them on velcro or flannel board or otherwise make so can move around, add/take away elements as needed..May put in an "all done" pocket when activities are done or could try saying "Hello" or "Goodbye" to the activities as they are introduced/completed. 

*Review the schedule at the beginning

*Have routines that are repeated each time like a certain welcome song/poem to provide a sense of comfort

*Make activities interactive and engaging

*Provide many opportunities for parents to connect with their children so that they can replicate these at home

*Use visuals and props to engage pre-readers

*Have stories that use a variety of reading and listening levels

*Gage your audience and switch to fewer words and more participation if needed

*Have some routines that everyone can learn to help them feel confident and capable-certain songs, movements, rhymes (like saying "Hello" or "Goodbye" to activities on the activity schedule

Home Activities: Extenders

*Provide a "take away" for parents so they can bring storytime learning into their home. This could be short suggestions on music, fingerplays, titles on a 1/4 sheet. Could include materials created for families living with autism, lists of local resources, ideas for pretend play at home-pretend you're in an indoor rain storm, simple crafts

*Pointers for parents at home: follow kids' interests, model words, parallel talk, label the home,  begin a sentence and wait for the child to finish it, reciprocal readings; ie The Very Hungry Catepillar

*Have social activities during storytimes-face to face or side by side

*Advise parents to make reading time a routine and ask questions to extend and build language

*Relate what reading to real life. Will help with theory of mind.

*Reading Techniques: Advise parents to ask questions like "What is this?" and to wait for a response. Then the parents repeat the response and add to it. They should congratulate kids on any attempt to answer.

*Consider doing outreach to parent/family support groups, ECSE (Early Childhood Special Ed), ECFE, Headstart. The impact will not necessarily be the numbers of people attending, but increasing the number of kids ready to read, sing, play, learn, read, and write

*Library staff should see who supports this cause and work with them to create story times and other programs

Some resources from Center for Engaging Autism:





There are many, many, more on the web. Just do some searches on Sensory Storytimes, storytimes and autism and you will find many trainings and resources there to pick ideas from, people to e-mail with questions.

Feel free to contact me as a parent of a young man on the spectrum and someone who has been researching outreach to people who are differently-abled: