Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Apps recommended by Upstream Arts for Making Arts Accessible

Last spring Andrea McKennan attended Upstream's workshop on Making Arts Accessible and shared a resource list with me that I have made into this post with graphics and links to futher information. I've also included two other apps that I think are useful. Click on the icons for additional information.

Talkboard app

Talkboard App (Free) Upstream says: Talkboard allows users to set up different boards, allowing for many different choices for any given activity, can include sound with choices

Photos (on all Ipads) Upstream says: Use this to create choices for students, bundle choices by activities, emotions, whatever makes sense for the group/activity, etc.

Bla Bla Bla app

(appears to be free) Upstream says: Bla Bla Bla creates an animated face that responds to your voice.

Vidrhythm app


($1.99) Upstream says: VidRhythm is the fastest way to make a music video.  Erin says:This used to be free-it appears to now be a $1.99, but I have this on our (that is my family’s) ipad and I would say it is worth it. It is fast and easy and can be done individually or as a group. I wanted to use this during Adapted SRP and didn’t get the chance..I want to find a 
 way to use this app with kids at the library-very fun!

Educreations app


(Has basic version that is free) Upstream says: Educreations provides a white board, can add/take and import photos, record voice, create slides-can create pre-recorded lessons too.

Story Wheel Lite app


(Free for basic) Taken from online review: Story Wheel Lite is an educational game that improves your child’s cognitive abilities. Story Wheel helps develop an understanding of story composition, strengthens imagination, and improves oral language skills.1-4 players can create a story. Start by spinning the wheel 
to get a picture. Next, record your voice as you develop a story with that picture. Each player will build upon the story with a new picture. When done, you can listen to your story and share your creations online, or email them to family and friends. The Lite version allows you to try each theme once for free.

Talk n'Photo app

($2.99) Upstream Arts says: Talk n’Photos provides a talking photo board, organized by album and has recorded speech.

Scribble Press app

 (Scribble Press for iPad is $3.99 and Scribble Press for web is free to use and it's free to publish books in a variety of electronic formats. Story Packs with extra stickers, backgrounds and stories can be purchased starting at $0.99 andprinted books start at $14.99. Upstream Arts says: Scribble Press allows you to create books, draw, add words into pre-made books/stories, can import/take photos to add.

Scribble Kid app

(.99) Upstream Arts says: Scribble Kid features simple drawing, can take quick photo and write on it or edit it.

Make Dice Lite app

(Free) Upstream Arts says: Make dice with different questions, topics, ideas, etc. on it. Shake Ipad to shake dice.

Toontastic app

(Toontastic and Toontastic Jr. Basic editions are free, school edition $9.99) Upstream Arts says: Toontastic allows you to make your own animated comic strip, include voices and move the characters as you want.

BrainPop app

 (BrainPop, Brainpop Jr., Brainpop ESL-basic versions appear to be free, otherwise subscription fee.)Upstream Arts says: Brainpop offers different educational movies with quick quizzes at the end. Featured movie of the day for everyone. Also has additional archived movies divided by topics for subscribers.

(Free)Upstream Arts says: Storylines for Schools is somewhat like the game of “telephone” but with pictures. It demonstrates how people may view the same thing very differently.

 ($3.99) Upstream Arts says: Tapikeo provides social stories, sequences, matching vocabulary with audio (title, instructions, introduction)

($1.99)Upstream Arts says: Story Dice are 1-10 dice with different pictures on them. You can make up a story, sentence, song, etc. about them.

 ($1.99) Upstream Arts says: WordFoto allows you to provide describing words for photos.

(Free) Upstream Arts says: Bitsboards provides flashcards, allows you to identify words verbally or written, matching, spelling with voice (eg emotions, concepts for the week), share to site. You can make your own or use ones that others have posted.
($15.99), (.99, fewer examples, Between the Lines Lite) Between the Lines offers practice interpreting vocal intonation, facial expressions, perspective-taking, body language, and idiomatic or slang expressions. Using real photographs, voices and short mini-video clips of a variety of social situations and expressions, this app provides a dynamic way to help learn and practice interpreting the messages that are “between the lines” and simply can’t be replicated with worksheets and static flashcards. Scenes for the body language activity include a shopping mall, office, kitchen, restaurant, school, party and more. Advanced features tasks appropriate for teens through adults.

Image Spinner App(.99) Upstream Arts says: Image Spinner allows you to make your own spinner. You can add photos and voice and have 2-10 choices. You can flick, swipe to move spinner.

If Poems App($2.99) Upstream Arts says: If Poems has a lot of different poems that you can search by topic, title, etc and record yourself reading a poem. It gives you dictionary definitions of words, and you can write your own poem.

Not on Upstream Arts List, but a couple that I have tried and found useful:

(Free) Taken from online review: This app is amazing. You dictate, it types what you say (the definition of dictation). Fantastic for students who are reluctant writers, poor spellers or have learning needs. You do need to speak slowly and fluently to get accurate sentences. You can edit the text. The best part I have found is sharing it, copying and pasting to other Apps such as Page or Keynote. Brilliant!

(Free, premium, $4.99) Lensoo Create turns your iPad or Android tablet into a virtual whiteboard with voice recording and smooth digital writing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Serving the Underserved: Children with Disabilities At Your Library

(There are slides, resource list, etc. on this page)

This was a great WebJunction webinar that I was able to listen to today led by Renee Grassi, Youth Department Director at Glen Ellyn Public Library in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  Renee began offering programs in response to library members asking her what was available for their children who were differently abled and also based on hearing them comment that some were not comfortable bringing their kids to the library. She started with Sensory Storytimes and Read to Rover: "Read to Rover": Children ages 8 and up are invited to this storytime program for an afternoon of 'doggy tales' with trained therapy dogs and their handlers. These gentle dogs are the perfect companion for children with autism as they listen to their favorite dog-themed stories and sing songs. After storytime, consider organizing the room into three exploration stations where children can do an activity while they interact with each of the dogs. Some example exploration stations include "Bailey Buckets," where children practice tossing bean bags into Bailey's water bowl or "Kubla's Command Corner," where children learn how to give Kubla a command. If the dog understands sign language, this corner can be easily adapted for children who use ASL. You could also use assistive technology with pre-programmed commands for those children with autism who are non-verbal. (Some intriguing ideas I found with the way that Renee has done what is very similar to our Paw Pals is that they’ve had more than one dog so that there were opportunities to read and then practice commands, and also that they’ve had activity stations (which you wouldn’t necessarily have to have more dogs for, you could have the coloring pages or crafts and other movement activities like throwing bean bags or some other creative idea/s.) Also Renee talked about having her Reading to Rover program for youth 8-16 as well which I think is a great idea because there are older reluctant readers, especially young people who for various reasons may not be reading at grade level.)

Why should we serve the underserved? Our Public Service Promise says it best: Welcoming, respectful, and equitable service.  Serving the underserved helps us meet our vision and mission by making it accessible to all.

How do you get started? Renee suggests that Disability Awareness Training for all staff is a good way to start because it gives all levels of workers the tools they need to serve people of all abilities.  Her library did training through an innovative group called JJ’s List.  Here in MN, some organizations we could look to are PACER, the Minnesota State Council on Disability, Advocating Change Together, and more I’m sure. Various advocacy groups also offer training relating to the population they serve like the Autism Society of MN, for example. Renee also suggested contacting Special Education Districts and says that observing special education classrooms gave her insight on ways to structure programs that she wanted to offer. She also suggested using resources through ALA and RUSA and trainings through Webjunction.

The next step is to offer a Community Needs Assessment. Ms. Grassi came up with a survey that she gave out to various people, groups with questions like “Do you attend the library?, Why or Why Not?, What types of programs would you be interested in-Inclusive or Targeted (specific to diffability-Autism, Hard of Hearing/Deaf, etc.), what types of materials would you like to see in the collection, what types of services do you wish the library offered? Survey questions and are included on the webjunction page for the webinar.

Renee then advised people to look at partners to consult with (training, advice on program content/structure, etc.) or coordinate/offer programming/services with and to help promote programs and services. She suggested looking at schools, advocacy groups, parks and recreation groups, health agencies/institutions, volunteer groups, other libraries. She mentioned that staff at her library had used to find parent support groups that they could speak to about the library’s programs and services. I have created a LibGuide that I presented on Staff Day that is a possible starting place for locating potential partners.

Finally Renee said to get started you should look at securing funding and suggested a number of places that offer relevant grants including ALSC’s Light the Way Grant, the deadline for which is Dec 1st and Target’s Early Literacy Grant. 

She also mentioned a few inclusive customer service tips: person first language, adjust your mindset (kids who are diffabled may need more movement and might not be able to sit the whole time, they may cover their ears to block out overstimulating sounds (noise cancelling headphones could be offered in a sensory kit), be patient and flexible (give time to process), ask simple questions, offer choices, encourage comments and suggestions (to show that you are aware of needs and that you are interested in their opinion).

What type of programs should libraries offer? Should they be targeted-designed and most likely marketed with specific needs of target population in mind or inclusive which means it is an activity open to and meant for all to attend. Community Needs Assessments can help you determine to some degree local preference in type of programming. Some families may feel more comfortable with targeted programming because they may feel it may be a more judgment free zone and more likely to understand/appreciate their family member’s abilities. Some examples of targeted programs are Sensory Storytime, Sensory Films, Performances, Special Education Class visits/programs/tours, Buddy/Friendship Programs. Inclusive programs have the benefit of letting kids of all abilities meet and potentially play together which can encourage friendships and understanding. Inclusive programs may include playgroups, movies and music, gaming, social clubs, arts, and crafts, etc.  In my personal opinion, libraries may want to offer a little of both, to offer options to families, and targeted could still be inclusive and inclusive could still be targeted as long as one is flexible and welcoming, and has taken the time to look into ways to make programs/services inclusive.

Sensory Storytimes are an example of programming that may be helpful for kids of all abilities and can also be targeted to specific audiences-kids who are diffabled, etc.  There are numerous examples of how to conduct sensory storytimes. Renee, based on feedback from surveys and visits to special ed classrooms, makes a picture schedule for storytimes to help visual learners see what is going to happen when and also has smaller versions of these schedules for families to use to track what is going on and to help kids know when an activity starts and ends. A social story is another visual that can help kids know what will happen at the library and during storytime.  Renee also made the room as free as possible from distractions to help kids who may be visually overstimulated.  Renee trained teen volunteers to help at sensory storytimes and also had help from special education teachers.

Later on Renee created Sensory Storytimes by partnering with Lekotek to bring in play specialists to help them conduct inclusive programs for families. Lekotek’s National Center is located not far from Renee’s library so they were able to provide a toy lending library and to help with selecting books for storytimes.  Renee also used a survey for families to find out about children’s likes/dislikes and any barriers to participation.  Another resource is the USA Toy Library Association and there are some member libraries in MN (see their listing of locations).

Another program that Renee has had at her library is Sensory Family Films. This is based on AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films for kids with autism and it involves showing movies with increased light, lower volume, closed captioning, allowing movement and talking, having sensory items like fidgets, noise cancelling headphones.

Special Education Class Visits are another way to serve youth who are diffabled. Reaching out to a special education program, department, or school can be a way to offer services, to ask if the library can provide learning extension and help design curriculum for visits. Renee had a recent class visit where she designed a lesson plan to work on practicing manners. These visits are another time Renee uses visual schedules to provide structure and to help relieve any anxiety students might feel when they don’t understand what is going to happen.

Accommodations that can be offered during programs include visual supports, sensory exploration including offering a variety of activities those that help kids who are sensory seeking (needing tactile and other kinds of sensory input) and sensory avoiding (not wanting to touch, sensitive to noise, etc.) Movement activities can increase strength and focus. Providing activities in multiple formats can be helpful as well including using big books, flannel boards, making copies of the book that individual kids/families can hold to follow along (or providing additional copies if available), using adapted stories (abbreviated, etc.).

Other service ideas include having resources listed on library websites, special collections, parent workshops, information on apps that can be of use, Light it Up Blue Awareness Campaign, sensory storytime kit, sensory kits…
 I just found a guide that the Boston Museum put together on adapting after school programs that looks pretty good. It’s tailored towards youth on the autism spectrum.

Mary Knox and I piloted an Adapted Teen Summer Reading Program at Central this summer. I would love to see if we could try a Transition Resources Fair for teens/young adults and Adapted and/or Inclusive Createch/Gaming.  I would love to work with Upstream Arts some more. Sensory Storytimes could be great too.

Speaking of Sensory Storytimes if SPPL could offer some, which I think would be great, I would love us to use the following program description (a similarly worded statement could actually be used for other inclusive/targeted programs as well). I read this and it filled me immediately with a sense of happiness and acceptance and I think it is one of the most perfect and welcoming descriptions of a program that I have ever read:

All children ages 3-8 and their families are invited to participate in this lively and interactive monthly story time. Children with varying learning styles and abilities learn together in a safe and supportive environment where respect and appreciation for differences is encouraged.
What do you think we should try next? Maybe it would be good to start with a Community Needs Assessment Survey and getting some sensory supplies for branches and creating sensory storytime kits or making special collections or adding to our general collection? Let me know what you think. I can be reached at:, or 651-266-7000, #5.

 --Erin Z-R @Central

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The new version of Learning Express Library has added so much content, it is almost like a new resource. In addition to the practice exams from the previous edition, there are tutorials, videos and e-books for learning all sorts of skills.

It is organized into “Centers”:

  • Adult Learning: Math, grammar and writing improvement, citizenship.
  • College Prep: Entrance exams such as SAT, ACT, AP.
  • Career Center - vocational exams such as Civil Service, Commercial Driver’s License, Nursing Assistant, Postal Worker, Military, etc.
  • High School Equivalency Center: GED practice.
  • School Center: Math, English, and Social Studies skills practice tests and e-books for grades 4-12.
  • Computer Skills: Introduction to computers and Internet, Microsoft Office, computer graphics, animation, and illustration software.
  • Spanish Language Resources - content in Spanish.
  • Job & Career Accelerator: Creating resumes and cover letters, how to search for and apply for jobs, interview skills, choosing a career.

Patrons still need to create an account with a username and password to access Learning Express Library content, but now, in addition to saving your test progress, you can also save your resume, tutorials, e-books, and video courses in “My Center”.

E-books are not little pamphlets - they can be up to 400 pages. Unlike most library e-books, patrons can save them to a flash drive or print the whole document.

Practice tests now come in 3 modes:

  • Learner - View the answers as you go along to help you study.
  • Practice - Test is timed, but if you run out of time, you can keep going.
  • Simulation - You cannot advance after the timer has run out.

Patrons can review their answers and print off score reports. Learning Express will recommend other resources they can use to bolster their skills, depending on how they perform.

In the Computer skills Center, all tutorials are video tutorials. They are a combination of “talking heads” instruction and screencasts showing how the software works. If the browser they are using doesn’t allow pop-ups, patrons may need to make an exception for Learning Express Library.

This was a Minitex webinar. Minitex also does free on-site training by request:

--Andrea H. @Central

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Notes from the Upper Midwest Digital Conference

Postcard from Minnesota Reflections.

The Upper Midwest Digital Conference from August 18 and 19, 2014 was an excellent conference which was both educational and inspirational.  
Here is my report in which I incorporated forwarded notes from a young colleague whom I met at the conference.

  • Linked Data

Linked Data is about using the Web to connect related data that wasn't previously linked, or using the Web to lower the barriers to linking data currently linked using other methods. More specifically, Wikipedia defines Linked Data as "a term used to describe a recommended best practice for exposing, sharing, and connecting pieces of data, information, and knowledge on the Semantic Web using URIs and RDF."
An excellent example is the New York Public Library Labs Linked Jazz project.
Music, recorded interviews, biographical and professional information/relationships, visual materials in form of photos and videos are uploaded and present a comprehensive  picture of a topic.
  • “Scan days” a DIY Local History Project
A nonprofit organization comes into a library for several hours on one day and supplies the technical equipment and staff to create local archives.
In addition to this free technical service, we could invite the public to contribute valuable historical documents to us.  I searched the New York Public Library and found their  Community History project in which they invite the community to participate at:
To find out when NYPL's Community Oral History Project will be coming to your neighborhood, learn how to get involved, or share your story, please contact or 212-621-0552. 92. 2-7
  • Ron will investigate about implementing a possible project.
  • We could consider scanning projects.  On “Scan Day”, we could inquire about suitable scanners from the experts.
  • Online exhibitions can be created

  • Many libraries “market” their digitized materials by placing a prominent place/link on their home page.
  • Some libraries sell reproductions of their scanned maps which seems to be quite successful.
  • Facebook increases the visibility of certain parts of the collection, for example maps.  When possible, post an image or a video and be vigilant of the activity of your page.

Three free Photoshop websites were provided by Greta Bahnemann:

ContentDM Update:

.Christian Sarason
CONTENTdm® makes everything in your digital collections available to everyone, everywhere. No matter the format — local history archives, newspapers, books, maps, slide libraries or audio/video — CONTENTdm can handle the storage, management and delivery of your collections to users across the
Enhancements (must complete upgrade, did we do this?)
o Usage stats with Google Analytics
o Automated sitemap generation (Mar 2014)
o Can now “Drop Files” into the website config tool
o New Mexico Digital Collection
o Ohio Memory
Under tools > SEO > create a public URL
o First, must select a URL like: or (email update to
The User Community
The Road Map—For FY15
o Mobile UIs
o Search Improvements
o Dynamic Collection Definition
o Sharing
o Technical Dept
The Future
o Malcolm Gladwell knowledge card
o WorldCat Works as linked data (article)
Registering our ContentDM servers with the Digital Collection Gateway (this is to share with WorldCat) is this something that Curtis is interested in?
Create OAI sets for each collection so that others can discover

Annual User events
Sanata Monica Public Library
Gery Ingram
Responsible Web design

Metadata questions: Best practices


  Matthew Butler, Univ. of Iowa Libraries & DIY History

DIY History
o Provides the public with the opportunity to engage with materials
Patrons can help transcribe diary entries
Iowa Byington Reed Diaries
DIY History lets you do it yourself to help make historic documents easier to use. Our digital library holds thousands of pages of handwritten diaries, letters, and other texts -- much more than library staff could ever transcribe alone, so we're appealing to the public to help out. Through "crowdsourcing," or engaging volunteers to contribute effort toward large-scale goals, these mass quantities of digitized artifacts become searchable, allowing researchers to quickly seek out specific information, and general users to browse and enjoy the materials more easily. Please join us in preserving our past by keeping the historic record accessible -- one page at a time
transcribe a letter in DIY history
write an 800-word blog post
Record a 1:30 to 3 minute screencast
Write a follow up blog post
Omeka and Scripto were used for transcription platform
Omeka Scripto MediaWiki
Code available on GitHub (history transcription platform)
Omeka version 1.5
IN: matthew-butler

o They are moving away from Scripto and MediaWiki

Digitizing Maps at the Wisconsin Historical Society

Laura Farley and Shannon Wilsey
Team members
o Director
o Metadata librarian
o Map cataloger
o Limited term employee
o Graduate students 2-5 students working 10-20 hours per week
      • Maps are too large for TIFF, convert to JPEG2000 (high resolution)
             Use oversized scanner
                                 Google DOC- uploads images
      • Software & equipment
Next Image – scanning copying,
Photoshop for editing, stich together, allows altering, overlaying, removes imperfection
      • Contentdm                                                                                                               Scalable, allows large images, can be searched through WorldCat, compatible with finding aids EAD.  Allows some room for custom made projects.
      • Assign Metadata                                                                                      
        Microsoft Google Docs
        If not satisfactory, (Moire lines, vertical streaks) re-scan and use Photoshop
      • Upload in badges
o Facebook organizes
Increase visibility (of the yearbooks? Discuss in PR Team meeting)
The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Social Media Guide
Wording: short and to the point, unified voice, don’t use (!), not a robot
Post twice a week
If possible, post an image or video
Be vigilant of activity
Represent the collection
Consider scanning and sharing with other institutions such as local architect firms

Keynote: NY Public Library Labs

Matt Miller
Building Discourse and the Crowd
o Digital Libraries + Labs
Digital imaging unit
Metadata Services
o Linked Jazz
o Discourse (history of ideas, making hidden connections visible, linking ideas with statements)
o Archives Portal @ NYPL
Ruby on Rails
o Tulane University
o John Cage, Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)
o (menus crowdsourcing)
o (Theater transcription Crowdsourcing)
o (oral history annotation crowdsourcing)

NYPD labs
Linked Jazz Project
Using the web to connect other methods to connect relevant data.
Linked Jazz project definition.
“Linked Jazz is an ongoing project investigating the potential of the application of Linked Open Data (LOD) technology to enhance the discovery and visibility of digital cultural heritage materials. The goal of this project is to help uncover meaningful connections between documents and data related to the personal and professional lives of musicians who often practice in rich and diverse social networks.”
Several steps are taken.
  • Bootstrapping – identification
Highlights knowledge, fills gaps, sharing
  • How can we discover and analyze?
Primary sources, oral history, interviews
  • Identifying
Reading transcripts check names and filter out same names only
  • Querying
DBpedia can be used, converting Wikipedia and data
DBpedia provides URL’s, fluid
  • Mapping
Filter DPedia jazz file,  script logic (ScriptLogic Corporation is a software manufacturer of network administration products for Microsoft Windows-based networks) and python used to filter out jazz musicians.
is a crowd-sourced community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia, and to link the different data sets on the Web to Wikipedia data. We hope that this work will make it easier for the huge amount of information in Wikipedia to be used in some new interesting ways. Furthermore, it might inspire new mechanisms for navigating, linking, and improving the encyclopedia itself.
LC abstracts can be downloaded with DBpedia .  Data will be checked to match.
  • Applying the data
Use name directory to locate individuals in interview transcript.  This project phase involves 50 transcripts.
Because of URL’s we can infer a relationship between 2 individuals.
Transcript Analyzer Tool
New data set has created an LOD project (Linked Open Data).
  • Provide Access
other methods
Digital library and labs, digital imaging unit
Metadata services

Oral historical transcripts and the sounds are used to map the network of musicians
Oral History Annotations:

Ingest, a linked open data interface is used:
using methods using the web to connect related data
linked open data, makes data available on the web under an open license as a structured data,.

ScanDays” a DIY Local History Project

John Sarnowski, ResCarta

ResCarta Foundation supports the creation of local cultural archives by holding events called “ScanDays.”
o Free and Open Source (available at their website)
o Location and volunteers
o Promotion of the event (word of mouth works better than anything)
o Training of operators
o Networking and computers
o Scanners/cameras (even items for oral recordings)
o Image and audio conversion tools (scanning small images or putting tapes on CDs)
o Software
Objects in high resolution
o Tif for photos and Text info
o Broadcast WAV upt to 96khz 24bit for audio
LC Metadata
TomCat Server included
JOAI (create a repository at this website)-


Backs Matter: Reformatting Postcards in CONTENTdm
        Greta Bahnemann
Postcards are slower to create and to upload.  They are of historic interest for post stamp collectors, stamp history and their hand written messages provide historical information.  In the 19th century the majority of postcards were produced in Germany. They were quite beautiful, however, there was a change after WWI.  Since 1907 they carried the line that divides both sides.
Image taps-Canvas size
Anchor-how canvas size is identified
Top middle square (arrows) verticle left outer middle
Copy and paste the two fronts with arrows to adjust to merge 
            the  front and back  together
Flatten image in Photoshop into one layer
Running action script (Photoshop)
Master Files
Font 123 a.tif
Back to tif, merge
Save into Master File Folder
For the ones who do not have Adobe there are three free Photoshop websites:

 Other uses for this technique:
  • Baseball cards
  • Advertising cards
  • Greeting cards

--Barbara @Central