Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Using HathiTrust to Locate Government Information


Hathitrust is a digital repository of over 11 million volumes from 90 partner libraries that is full-text searchable. “Hathi” (pronounced hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant, symbolizing memory, wisdom, and strength.

Out of the 11 volumes,  over 500,000 are United States government documents. Over half of these government documents have been viewed at least once since 2010.

Hathitrust has a government documents planning and advisory group whose goal is to expand and enhance access to government documents.

Cool features of Hathitrust::

  • Allows access to old government documents that are fragile and need to be preserved - now they can “circulate” on the Internet.
  • Can use during government shutdowns or any time government web sites are unavailable.
  • Patrons can search for themselves.
  • Can find references within a document without searching the whole text.
  • Can read on mobile devices.
  • Accessible to the visually impaired and those with learning disabilities.
  • Patrons don’t have to understand SUDOC numbers.
  • More government documents available than an individual library can offer.
  • Improved metadata making for more and better ILL requests. Some documents were not cataloged until they were entered into Hathitrust.
  • With the addition of an Espresso Book Machine, partner libraries can offer print on demand.

Hathitrust can be searched either as a library catalog, or as full-text. If you want to limit to public domain items only, check the “full view only” box.

if you find issues with a documents scan or bibliographic record (or it should be public domain, but isn't),  you can give feedback. There is an easy-to-fill-out form, and Hathitrust usually responds in a day or two.

Even non-partner libraries can use Hathitrust to build their government document collections. After creating a University of Michigan friend account, anyone can create a collection of documents on a particular topic. Hathitrust documents can be embedded on a web page and there is a search box widget that libraries could add to their government documents page to offer patrons more access to government documents with no cataloging required.

Currently, downloading is not available  with a guest account, even for public domain items. Downloading is allowed in the building of a partner institution, such as the University of Minnesota.

There is overlap with Google books, but also different items. Unlike Hathitrust, Google makes everything post-1923 unavailable as full-text, even government documents, which are all public domain by law.

Hathitrust content is available in the Digital Public Library of America.

What’s next for Hathitrust?

Presentation slides are available here.

--Andrea @Central

Monday, May 05, 2014


Hidden deep within our staff and public Internet computers is a little program called Paint.

paint 1.jpg

It’s great for patrons looking to make small changes to their photos before uploading them to Facebook or using them as a social media avatar.
paint 2.jpg

You can resize photos:
paint 3.jpg
You can rotate photos:

paint 4.jpg

You can crop photos:

paint 5.jpg
Staff can also use it to edit picture for use in flyers and presentations. See how I used drawing to highlight important information in the above photos? I find it much easier to work with than Word.

You can even do freehand drawing, though I don’t recommend it:


If a patron wants more advanced drawing and photo options while using the Internet, I recommend the free webapp Sumo.fm . Photo Editor by Aviary (iOS, Android) and Brushes 3 (iOS) are good free mobile apps.

--Andrea @Central

Monday, March 24, 2014


Digital Libraries

Bibliotech in San Antonio TX is the first all-digital public library. It has a staff of 6- only one is an MLIS librarian. The children’s area has iPad stations, an XBox, and Microsoft PixelSense tables, which are multitouch tables that can be used by several people at once, like in the movie Minority Report. Because of the electronic screens, they have dim lighting in the room.

For checkout, there are 800 e-readers. 600 are 3M Cloud readers and 200 are Nooks with pre-loaded content for children. They use plastic RFID tags so they don’t interfere with the devices.

In addition to e-books and the usual library databases, they have Zinio for magazines, OneClick Digital for audiobooks, Treehouse for learning, ComicsPlus Library Edition for graphic novels, and Hoopla for streaming movies.

One innovative program they offer are e-readers for parents in prison pre-loaded with parenting materials and childrens' books they can read to their children when they visit.

Future predictions:

  • Digital libraries will exist alongside traditional libraries, not instead of.
  • More patrons will have their own devices instead of checking out devices.
  • There will be one login instead of several  (Overdrive, Zinio, OneClick Digital, Treehouse each have their own login currently).

Bibliotech is still very new, but they will be documenting their process and making it public for other libraries to learn from.

Social Georeferencing – A Model for Libraries

Social georeferencing is booming on the web, but not always by that name. For example. Historypin allows people and organizations to add photos and other information to locations on a map. Computers have trouble deciding what information is meaningful or understanding ambiguity, e.g. which town named Springfield is being referred to, what is the “Big Apple”, where is downtown.

That is where crowd-sourcing can help. For example, the British Library asked people on the Internet to contribute to their online map collection. Glen Farrelly worked on the Our Ontario local history site, which used patrons to identify photos and encouraged them to comment. It is a way to bring the community into the collection.

One idea for a library would be to have a "Local History Day" and encourage patrons to bring in photos and letters and talk about memories. Items could be digitized and uploaded to the library web site. Flickr is a free photo-sharing site that offers mapping of photos. Prizes and other incentives could be offered to make it like a game.

Using Augmented Reality in Information Retrieval

The library at Prairie View A & M University received a grant from IMLS to create an augmented reality app for information retrieval. Augmented reality allows anyone with a camera and an Internet connection to gain additional information when they point their device at a location or object, including text, photos, or video. Prairie View’s patrons have the devices already, so why not take advantage?

The app was designed to take advantage of user behavior - many users prefer to browse the shelves rather than use the catalog. If the patron scans a book with augmented reality, they can see related photos and videos. For example, a biography of Ethel Waters links to a music video of her singing “Heat Wave”. A book on kidney disease might have a link to a video about dialysis. So far, only 50 books have augmented reality, but they intend to keep on adding books. Staff has to find the related materials to add, so it takes a little time. The app is available for iOS and Android and also includes links to the catalog, databases, and library hours and locations. It was designed by a third party, although the library staff adds the AR material.

I think it could be a good way to publicize databases. You could either scan a book, or maybe the endcaps of the shelves.

Creating An Infographic Contest at Your Library

Infographics are a hot new trend. The visual format helps people understand complex information, and they are easy to create without knowing HTML.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor library had an infographics contest for their students during National Library Week. They used the Piktochart webapp and requested submissions via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The judges were sent the entries using Google Forms. The students could choose any topic.

It was their most successful contest in years. They did have a little trouble with Pinterest, as it keeps identifying information with the pictures (not so good for privacy), so they won’t use it next time.

An infographic contest could be a fun yet educational activity for teens.

--Andrea @Central


Libraries have always been a place to learn, but now they are changing from a grocery store to a kitchen model. Making is the new collection development. Patrons want to learn hard (STEM) and soft (Arts) skills for an ever-changing workplace. If children are interested and engaged they will be more likely to pursue related learning. Early engagement is needed for success in STEM fields.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries received a grant for a statewide maker program. Five libraries were included in the first year. It is run by the Commission with member input. The focus was programs for tweens and teens.

Some programs they offered:

  • Robotics
  • Electronics kits
  • E-textiles
  • “All About Wool” - brought sheep into parking lot and learned about making wool - kids helped to shear & wash wool.
  • Boat Race challenge - used recyclable materials - cost hardly anything
  • Gardening
  • Origami
  • Yarn bombing - decorating the outside of the library with yarn in a way reminiscent of graffiti.

The local Maker group built 3-D printers and maintained them for one year. They also partnered with PCS Edventures, which provided robotics and electronics knowledge.

The pilot  libraries found that a dedicated space was not needed for making. It can even be done in a one-room library if you dedicate a certain time to it. Programs don’t have to be at a particular time or place- they can be “stealth” or “passive” programming. Staff can set daily or weekly challenges or just leave the materials out and glance over now and then.

Tips for libraries planning maker programs:

  • Training is key.
  • Activities should be hands-on.
  • Have“Make-it Days” where parents and others can see what kids made.
  • Have programs for homeschoolers.
  • Partner with schools
  • Get feedback from participants - can be as simple as a poster board where teens put a sticker under "I learned something" or "I had fun".
  • Each branch decides what direction they want to go - More sewing? More technology? More gardening?
  • Tie making into summer reading

Every benchmark for the pilot was met and exceeded. The libraries have had an increase in teen usage. Staff gained confidence after being scared at first. The amount of programs libraries offered were way beyond expectations. It has even affected how libraries look at their space - weeding, re-design to provide more space for making. The community wants making to expand. The focus has shifted from creating maker spaces to creating makers. Making can happen anywhere!

I was especially intrigued by the Make It Take It Kits the Meridian Library offers for checkout, with everything from robots to crocheting to ukuleles. They can't keep them on the shelf. 

--Andrea @Central


With an audio/video studio, tech petting zoos, and preloaded Nooks already available, the Arapahoe Library District was looking for the next big thing. They saw Google was having a contest to win a Google Glass. Google Glass is a wearable computer interface that looks like a pair of glasses. Google was impressed that they were going to offer the public a chance to try it. Since it is not yet available to the general public (only a limited amount of  beta testers), many people are eager to give it a try.

Another device they purchased is an Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset for playing and creating games. It comes with a complete development kit for programmers. 150 games are currently compatible. It fits in with their teen game night - teens love it.

Arapahoe also has a Makerspace with a 3-D printer.

Advantages of offering beta technology:

  • It attracts young adult men (18-30) and other tech-savvy people.
  • It encourages creativity.
  • It attracts media attention.
  • It helps people realize that libraries are different these days. Make sure to have the devices in a prominent place, to encourage patrons to ask questions while staff are doing maintenance.
  • It provides a unique experience.
  • The learning curve is steeper with new technologies - the library can help.
  • Staff can give patrons  neutral, non-judgmental advice - as a library, you’re not selling devices.

Libraries have to keep in mind that beta technology is risky and doesn't always work. Not everything will be the next big thing.

Most  Arapahoe library patrons are self-sufficient and the numbers of patrons needing basic computer  help has decreased. Not all libraries will be in the same boat.

Cost of devices:

  • Google Glass: $1800
  • Oculus rift: $300
  • Makerbot Mini 3-D printer: $1375

  • --Andrea @Central


Megan Egbert is the Youth Services Supervisor for the Meridian Library District in Meridian, Idaho (a suburb of Boise).  Inspired by 3D GameLab, a badge-based learning system for students and teachers, and by the YALSA badge program for competencies around working with teens, she came up with an idea- why not replace performance reviews with badges? While the library was not quite ready for such a big change right away, it began a  voluntary pilot program for staff development using badges.

Advantages of badges:

  • You can keep a record of your accomplishments - no more wracking your brain to remember what you did six months ago.
  • Recognition doesn’t have to be top-down - badges can be awarded by peers.
  • You can display badges on other web sites such as your blog or Linkedin.
  • Gamification gets  staff excited about new library resources and trying new things like Twitter.
  • You can work at your own pace.
  • Encourages staff feedback - have staff suggest badges.

For the program, Megan first tried Mozilla Open Badges, which was too techy, and then
P2PU, which she couldn't get to work at all. Finally, she settled on Credly.  It was easy to use, but had no place to make and archive criteria for challenges.  For, that she used Google Sites,  a simple web site creator that offers a place for staff discussion (we used it in Leadership Academy, it worked pretty well).  

Ideas for badges:

  • Customer service
  • Databases - how many languages are in the language learning tool?
  • A reference trivia contest- they do “Fact Finding Friday” (staff has to document how they found it).
  • Ebooks, Zinio, etc.

Tips for libraries using badges for staff development:

  • Get staff buy-in.
  • Give staff time to work on it
  • Give all staff an equal chance.
  • Encourage feedback.

I think this approach would be good for something like DiscoTech or MORE training, perhaps in combination with training from Lynda.com or Webjunction.

For more information, check this blog post on Tame the Web:

--Andrea @Central