Saturday, October 03, 2015


Garfield County Libraries circulate Kindles, iPads and Chromebooks.


Garfield County circulates Kindle Paperwhites pre-loaded with books. The checkout kit includes a padded bag, device case, charger, and short user guide. To publicize the program, they put out Kindle boxes and decorated them. The devices are preloaded with best-sellers, patron requests, companion titles that go with library programs such as book clubs and One Book, and selected self-published free titles of high quality.

Kindles are a “Lucky Day”, first-come, first-served,  non-holdable item. They check out for 3 weeks with no renewals. Only adults can check them out and they are not available for ILL.

Challenges with circulating Kindles:

  • Kindles need to be cleaned for cat hair, smoke, etc. They have a kit with screen wipes, microfiber cloth, lint roller, Febreze.
  • Amazon allows patrons using the device to post on social media.
  • Damaged devices - Do you buy an insurance plan or purchase new Kindles when one is damaged? Garfield County charges $80 for broken device.
  • Kindles aren’t accessible to patrons with visual impairments.

Advantages of circulating Kindles:

  • Patron who wants popular book with a long hold list could get lucky and check it out on a Kindle.
  • Patrons learn about e-readers and if they want to buy one.
  • Great for patrons going on vacation.

Garfield County plans to purchase the Whispercast institution management tool from Amazon. It lets you wipe remotely and eliminates issues with patrons using library social media or patrons being locked out of a book because it’s on too many devices.

iPads & Chromebooks:

Garfield County chose iPads and Chromebooks to circulate because they seemed like the "it" technologies. They are checked out in-library only for 2 hours a day maximum. Teens can check them out with one-time verbal permission from their guardian.

Each branch chooses which apps to have on their iPads, tailoring them to their collection. They have found that parents check them out and hand them to their kids. Garfield County hired Macprofessionals to manage the iPads, but there are still issues with failure to sync and the need to update the operating system frequently.

Chromebooks are much easier to sync and update, but not as popular with the patrons as iPads. Garfield County bought Google for Business management licenses at $30/device from Newmind Group, and that’s about the only expense.

Challenges with iPads & Chromebooks:

  • Replacement cycle goes down to 2-4 years, vs traditional PCs being 5 or more. After a certain amount of time, Google & Apple won't update your old devices.
  • Some options patrons expect are missing - CD drives, Microsoft Office.
  • Training staff.
  • Keeping devices secure.

Advantages of iPads & Chromebooks:
  • Different devices for different needs/wants, instead of one size fits all.
  • Patrons can move around and sit where they want.
  • For the technically challenged, easier to use than desktop PCs.
  • Chromebooks are almost zero work for the IT department.


Dream big, but have a budget in mind.
Take the "tech temperature" of your community.
Keep everyone in the loop - patrons, staff, financial backers.

Webinar attendees’ wishlist of circulating items:

Handouts are available here and the archived webinar is here.

--Andrea H. @GLCL

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Jason Reynolds is a compelling speaker. He got into writing through hip-hop rather than books because it spoke to issues that affected his neighborhood in Brooklyn. The crack epidemic of the time was not being discussed in YA literature. His goal is to write books that deal with issues teens can relate to and that take their feelings seriously. Reynolds is available for library visits.

Gaming in the library:

Games are still stereotyped as being just for kids, especially boys. In reality, the average age of a gamer is 31 and women play just as much as men. Gaming is also increasing among people over 50.

Positive results of gaming:

  • Stress reduction.
  • Maintaining mental sharpness in seniors.
  • Socialization.
  • Planning skills in teens.
  • Encouraging early literacy in children - gives them an incentive to read.
  • Connecting parents and children.

Finger Lakes Library circulates 589 games. They are more popular than their DVD collection.

Things to think about when circulating games:

  • People will steal them. Use Kwik cases, vending machines, or keep behind the desk.
  • Some patrons may complain that they are inappropriate or too expensive (you can buy pre-owned games at Amazon).
  • Have a reasonable loan period - you can’t play a game in 2 days.
  • Have clear policies - Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, reconsideration of materials form.
  • Think about your target audience - ESRB ratings don’t have legal force, but can be used as guidelines. Are your gamers kids or adults? casual or hardcore? What device do they use? What genres do they like?

When adding games to the collection, give them what they want and don't play it safe.

La Vista Public Library  started a gaming club for the board game Arkham Horror (produced by Twin Cities company Fantasy Flight Games).  After they had been playing for a while, the teens had the idea to create a life-sized version where they dressed up as their characters, made sets, and created monsters out of Halloween supplies and Dollar Tree stuffed animals. They partnered with a local game store and received $300 worth of materials from Fantasy Flight, in addition to a grant from YALSA. They had a great response and were able to save most of the supplies to use again.

Ann Arbor District Library has been putting on gaming tournaments since 2004. They feel that their money goes further with events than circulation - tournaments encourage new patrons, teens are engaged by the competition aspect, teens make new friends, and teens with too many fines to check out materials can still attend. AADL avoids games that favor richer players - some games allow players to buy items that give them an advantage, or else players get rewards for hours put in rather than skills (players without fast Internet at home are penalized). AADL’s preferred console is the Wii-U, as it has the broadest audience.

Some tournaments:

League of Legends- world’s largest gaming community, could be the next Minecraft.
Pokemon Showdown - free online.
Minecraft - build your fantasy library, library Hunger Games.
ALA International Games Day- teens were excited to play online with people all over the world.

Other gaming-related programming ideas:

  • Mini-game development jam with free Scratch software
  • Summer reading program with badges for achievements.
  • Giving patrons points for book reviews, identifying photos, checking digitized materials for errors- make everything a game and get patrons to work for you for free!

Recommended games:

Web sites:

Tabletop: learn about a game by watching celebrities play.

How to organize a “Con” at the library:

East Orange Public Library’s Children’s Librarian and teen Anime Club members put on their first library convention in 2015. The teens had a competition to design the convention mascot. Tosho-Con  had an attendance of 400, over half of which were adults. It was one day and included 15 programs.

Why a convention?

  • Conventions are a central part of “Geek” culture -fans of science fiction, fantasy, anime, horror.
  • A chance to meet fans with the same interests.
  • A chance to meet creators and learn about new and upcoming titles.
  • A chance to create and share creations - fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, etc.
  • Large conventions can be expensive and crowded, they can even sell out. Teens may not be able to attend due to transportation issues or lack of parental permission.

Programs included fashion shows (kid, teen, adult) with prizes, a raffle of donated items, and Iron Cosplay (making costumes on a deadline with paper). Teen co-chairs picked other teens to staff craft tables. The teens loved having job titles and responsibility.

Tips for library conventions:

  • Find partners- the local comic shop donated bags with comic books and the parking authority offered free parking. EOPL also invited the local arts council.
  • Create a program with library rules and a layout schedule.
  • Plan programs so simultaneous events attract different demographics.
  • Teach staff about conventions and offer training.
  • Tie convention to the collection for a great PR opportunity.
  • Check the date to make sure your event doesn’t conflict with any major conventions.
  • Carefully plan your budget, location of events, and staff needs. Presenter costs vary widely - the most expensive at EOPL was $600. Using local creators saves travel costs.

How to sustain a teen volunteer group:

Chattanooga Public Library had started a teen volunteer group, but they were having issues. They realized that they were taking the wrong approach - the group wasn’t about library staff and saving them work, it was about the teens and being a teen advocate.

Tips for supervising a teen volunteer group:

  • Get teen input - they will leave if they don't have a voice.
  • Work around their schedules, not yours.
  • Give up control - ask them what they want to do.
  • Have quarterly focus groups - put out a sheet and walk away so they will answer freely.
  • Hang out with them and talk to them - they are teens, so there will be breakups and drama.
  • Have train the trainer sessions for teens so they can host programs.

Handouts for the conference are available here and here.

--Andrea H. @ GLCL

Thursday, September 03, 2015


Sometimes you get a question about building codes, fire codes, electrical codes, etc. The patron may mention local, state, national, or international codes. Why are there so many codes, and how do you know which one to look at? As with all legal questions, librarians cannot interpret the codes, but even finding them for the patron can be tricky.

Since lawmakers usually lack expertise to write the codes themselves, they adopt national or international codes created by private trade associations. Since this is voluntary, they are free to amend the codes or continue to use an earlier code when a newer one is available. So, the text of the St. Paul Code of Ordinances will contain citations to the date and section of the Minnesota Building Code that has been adopted, and the Minnesota Building Code will contain citations to the International Building Code.

code of ord snip.JPG

All of these codes are available for free on the Internet:

In addition, The Internet Archive is adding building codes to its collection. The advantage here is that they can be downloading in various handy e-book formats such as .pdf, Kindle, and EPUB. This is useful for people who want to keep a title to consult. They also can be downloaded on mobile devices. While not all the most current codes have been downloaded yet, remember sometimes an older title is still being used by a particular jurisdiction.

Reasons patrons want building codes include: legal disputes, studying for a contractor exam, making sure that a new home improvement project is not violating rules. 

--Andrea H. @GLCL

Tuesday, August 25, 2015



When Ben Franklin started his library, books were unusual items that many people could not afford. Lending objects, the Ann Arbor District Library feels, is an appropriate extension of the library’s mission, reducing barriers to technology use and promoting creativity.  

  • Games -Ping-Pong table, giant chess board, disc golf.
  • Musical instruments-synthesizers, amplifiers, guitar pedals.
  • Science tools -telescopes, microscopes, Arduinos, MaKey-Makeys, Finch robots.
  • Learning kits (come with books & objects)- dinosaur fossils (replicas), colors, anatomy.
  • Art tools - sewing machines, spinning wheels, die cutters, input tablets.
  • Home tools- air quality meters, thermal camera,  solar power pack.

They started small with art prints (used by art teachers in the classroom) and power meters. Each object is cataloged with instructions (text and video) right in the catalog. They are checked out in sturdy cases such as the ones made by Gator and Pelican. The current budget for objects is $100,000 and comes out of general funds. A synthesizer is the most expensive object ($1000) - but most are $100-200. Staff is trained in small repairs.

Tips for circulating objects:

  • Find community partners. Ann Arbor partnered with the college astronomy group, a sewing group, etc. They can teach classes and troubleshoot technical issues.
  • Publicize collection by creating a “demo” area with rotating items.
  • Create buzz with programs that pair with objects. -Ann Arbor had a Mini-Moog music festival and a telescope party at the Science Museum.
The most popular items are the Theremin, the spinning wheel and the telescopes. Circulating objects has brought in patrons who don’t use the library as much, such as musicians and twenty-somethings. One patron made an album solely with musical instruments checked out from the library.

Principles for choosing items::

  • Check out is 7 days, so they should be appropriate for short term use.
  • Fill an infrequent need- tools such as hammers and saws are used too often.
  • Should be more expensive than most patrons want to purchase, but they would use.
  • Evaluate risk - Ann Arbor doesn’t circulate power tools.
  • Get feedback from the community on items they would like -start a conversation on social media.
  • Research objects before you buy.

Plans for the future: more kits for the classroom and summer day camps, more DIY kits, a 3-D printer.

Handouts for the webinar are available here and an archived version here.

--Andrea @GLCL