Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Keynote Speaker: Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier started in digital humanitarianism with the 2010 Haiti tsunami. He created an app with volunteers from Tufts and crowdsourced information from the worldwide Haitian diaspora to make the most detailed map of Haiti ever, aiding relief efforts.

For the 2015 Nepal earthquake/tsunami, clouds were making it hard for satellites to see areas that needed help, so We Robotics sent drones in to take pictures. Local communities were taught how to program and repair the robots, learning new skills. Lakes could be mapped to warn of tsunamis in the future.

Live Chat: Librarians Using Simple Technology to Provide Access to Justice (Social and Legal) to Patrons in Distress - Sheri Huppert, Minnesota State Law Library and Elvira Embser-Herbert, Minnesota State Law Library

Here are Ron P.’s notes for this session:

The people from the Minnesota Law Library gave a presentation on their chat services.   Of particular note are the two web sites they talk about--Minnesota State Law Library and LawHelpMN.  These two sites have a lot of information about various aspects of the law in Minnesota--particularly their Legal Guides, which explain in layman's' terms various aspects of individual legal problems and how to navigate the system, and their County Sheets, which list legal resources (free legal advice, etc.) available in individual counties.

Slides for this presentation are available here.

Look Ma, I'm on YouTube! Creating Impactful Library Tutorials - Stewart Van Cleve, Winona State University

I was unable to attend this session, but I’m bookmarking Carla Pfahl of Minitex’s blog post for when I need to create a video tutorial.

Slides for this presentation are available here.

New Tools for E-Publishing in Libraries - Matt Lee, Minitex and Andrea McKennan, MELSA

Minitex & MELSA are planning to offer Minnesota authors a platform for e-publishing using Pressbooks for formatting and Self-E for web hosting. Anyone can apply, there is just a screening for copyright issues.

That’s Pretty Neat: Free and Easy Resources to Boost Your Small Business and Entrepreneurship Programming - Nate Nins, Macalester College

Nate shared his list of top free websites for small businesses:

  • Google Drive - has forms, word processing and spreadsheets. Works on mobile
  • Zipbooks - free accounting app
  • Hubspot Academy -free classes on marketing -registration is required
  • Wix - easy to make a web site, no page limits - includes small adds, doesn’t include web hosting
  • Freenom - free domain names - can sell your name with no warning, will charge if you get too much traffic
  • Cyberplanner - security planning tips from the FCC - both physical & data security
  • Small Business Trends - hot topics in small business world
  • Local tools - find nearby tool lending libraries and rentals.

Links for this session are available here.

--Andrea H. and Ron P.


The Library Technology Conference for 2017 was once again full of interesting and useful content. This year SPPL was represented by the following sessions:

Innovation at Work: Artists, Entrepreneurs and Jobseekers in the Makerspace - Amanda Feist, Andrea Herman and Xenia Hernandez

Createch/SPNN: Partnering to Engage Youth with Media in Saint Paul Libraries - Erica Redden with contributions from Alaina Kozma

Here are some highlights from other sessions:

Circulating Laptops - Brent Palmer, Iowa City Public Library

In 2016, the Iowa City Library started circulating laptops for at-home use. IAPL has only one large branch downtown. They wanted to give more options to patrons who had trouble getting to the library or needed more computer time than 2 hours a day. According to Pew Research Center, 10% of Americans are "cell phone dependent" and 20% do not own laptops or PCs.

Laptops help patrons with important tasks that would be difficult to do on a mobile device:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Legal case documents
  • Learning new skills
  • Taxes

The library was deciding between Windows and Chrome OS due to ease of use and price point of $500, but decided Chromebooks were too hard to use without Internet access.

ICPL recently started circulating Wi-fi hotspots as well from Mobile Beacon. The price is good - $5 per hotspot, $10/month unlimited data, but the Sprint coverage can be spotty. They circulate iPads in-library only with apps geared to kids.

Brent’s tips for circulating laptops:

  • Offer drop-in tech assistance.
  • Teach patrons to save their work with Google Drive.
  • Kiosks may lessen staff time, but they are very expensive ($33,000 not including laptops) and geared more to in-house circulation.
  • Have a sturdy laptop case - they are moving to nylon as the faux-leather ones didn’t hold up.
  • Use Clonezilla to save the desktop image & install on all computers so you can set the laptops back to a default with a simple "restore this laptop" button.
  • Refresh the laptop upon return with a physical and software cleaning. Don’t check it in until the process is completed. Keep a copy of the disk image on every computer.
  • Update software every few months. Place a hold on all the computers with a staff library card and update as they come in.

ICPL has had 301 laptop circs since March 2016 and only 3 laptops were not returned. One laptop had a cracked bezel, which they didn’t charge the patron for.

Slides for this presentation are available here

iLAB: Year One - Mary Wussow, Holly Carlson, Shawn Foster-Huot, Dakota County Library
ILab Year One:

Dakota County Libraries iLab, a makerspace for all ages, opened July 2016. Their use of desktop computers was decreasing, so they decided to repurpose their computer lab.

Steps to creating iLab:

  • Created a team including Reference, IT, Circulation, Administration.
  • Did lengthy research on the community including an environmental scan.
  • Had a walk-through with Risk Management.
  • Created a liability waiver and had legal department look at it.
  • Sent out a Surveymonkey survey of the community for equipment ideas.

The Dakota County Library service area had an active quilting group, so they purchased a fabric cutter and quilting software. Digitization of photos and slides is also very popular. There are many homeschoolers, so they decided to make it an all-ages space that families can work in together.  

Learning teams were created for each activity. Teams were responsible for:

  • Unboxing equipment
  • Training staff
  • Making user guides
  • Making usage policy
They discovered that one size did not fit all when it comes to learning. Each team worked a little differently. 9-10 AM became a regular time for staff to meet and share tips.

The staff person in iLab should be able to get a patron started - if they need more help, Dakota County offers a “Book a Librarian” service.

What they have learned so far:

  • Figure out who you are trying to reach.
  • Get Administration & funders on board with your vision - align with agency goals
  • The Makerspaces & the Participatory Library Facebook page has good equipment recommendations.
  • Evanced Spaces is not ideal for booking equipment - patrons don’t always receive emails. They are looking for new software.
  • Give up what you can to make it happen - certain tasks assigned to Westcott branch
were given to  other branches.
  • Word of mouth is the most effective publicity.
  • Avoid consumables - they get lost too easily (e,g., Legos).
  • Avoid equipment that has risk to safety.
  • Find out what you staff is  interested in learning.
  • The NextEngine 3D scanner may have been too complicated for its cost.
  • Made sure to have patron training on evenings and weekends.

Plans for Phase 2:

  • Community partnerships
  • Beyond the basics classes
  • Volunteers
  • Mobile Maker Kits

All of fears they had for issues coming up haven't occured - physical injury, damaged equipment, 3D printed weapons. They have been able to offer consumables for free so far, so they don’t have to charge patrons for mistakes. Patrons are saying they have come to the library for the first time in years.

Handouts are available here.

Photos are available here.

--Andrea H.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

MELSA Next Chapter Book Club Affiliate Training

MELSA Next Chapter Book Club Affiliate Training, February 24, 2016

Saint Paul Public Library Staff Erin Zolotukhin-Ridgway, Gao Yang, Deb Kerkvliet, Joe Houlihan (Vista), and Mary Knox have received training for SPPL to become a NCBC affiliate.

What is Next Chapter Book Club? Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) offers weekly opportunities for adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities - regardless of reading ability - to be members of a book club, to read and learn together in a community setting. Clubs are typically made up of 5-10 members and 1-3 trained facilitators reading the same book each time they meet until the book is completed.

Why have a book club for people with developmental disabilities?

        NCBC helps people with disabilities read, make friends, and enjoy the community.

        People with developmental disabilities can experience barriers to community inclusion and may have more limited opportunities for social interaction and only segregated social activities.

        There can be barriers to lifelong learning due to social attitudes that people with developmental disabilities are not interested in or capable of learning after school nor interested in reading or books.

        An NCBC facilitator commented that her time working with the book club reminded her of the incredible diversity and talent within people just waiting for an opportunity to be heard. All people need to have the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. NCBC is an opportunity to meet people where they are, to assume competence, and to celebrate what they can do.


History: NCBC was started by the Nisonger Center at Ohio State University in 2002 to integrate learning and social activity for people with developmental disabilities into community settings. NCBC has grown from 2 book clubs in Columbus, OH to nearly 300 clubs across North America, Europe and Israel.

Literacy skills: NCBC isn’t a class although NCBC participants may gain skills like page turning, knowing parts of books, word and letter recognition, enjoying and discussing books. NCBC focuses on reading to learn rather than learning to read.

Community inclusion: NCBC allows the opportunity for participants to be out in the community where people go. Clubs have often been held in community locations like book stores, cafes. In libraries, NCBC encourages clubs to be held in open spaces or if held in enclosed meeting rooms, encourages that part of the club meeting take place out in the open like exploring the library to find books or learn how to use resources.

Goal: The goal of the program is for members to interact more frequently and in new ways with books and a variety of written/oral communication, each other and the community around them. Facilitators work to help each member stay engaged as everyone is different.

Book club meetings:

        Reading is done during the club meetings so that members and facilitators can support each other as much as each wants to be supported.

        Book club meetings are also times for socializing, chatting, asking questions about the book, but also about each other, learning and sharing.

        There’s no certain time by which a book has to be finished.

        Clubs generally meet at a minimum every other week. Meeting weekly gives consistency to the club and helps keep members engaged in the book.

        Clubs usually meet for an hour at the same time and location.

        Clubs are facilitated by 1-3 facilitators, may be trained staff or volunteers.

        NCBCs meet in public spaces where the general community gathers: bookstores, libraries, cafes, and coffee shops, etc. and try to meet in open spaces to encourage community visibility, awareness, and engagement.


        Next Chapter Book Clubs welcome members with any reading level.

        Every effort is made to accommodate anyone who would like to join. Ways to help could be increasing text size on an e-reader, providing a book cradle to hold a book (if grasp or holding the book is difficult), audio books, large print, copying pages of the book to increase text size, letting someone enter text into a speech reader, providing an interpreter, etc.

        Any disruptive, problematic behavior is addressed on a case by case basis. Most often what may happen is that people may talk over each other or interrupt. NCBC recommends giving people a chance to do their best with gentle and respectful re-direction and reminders (not too wordy): “Hey, let’s talk about this at the end”, or “Hold on to that thought for a minute while_____finishes her thought”. Every once in a while there may be a member who just isn’t a good fit. NCBC staff is available for on-going support and consultation and Jillian is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance.

        Prospective members can visit a club to see what it looks like and whether they would like it.

        Age ranges: It is recommended to have a separate group for younger teens 12-13/14-17 and then a group for older teens/young adults/adults 18+. If a younger teen wants to join, you may want to talk with them and/or their guardian/parent to see if putting them in a group of older teens/adults will be a good fit.

NCBC Facilitators:

        The facilitator’s role is to ensure a safe, supportive, and fun experience and to monitor the club to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to engage and access books, inclusion, etc.

        Promote self-determination through highlighting areas/chances for members to make choices: when the group wants to take a break for socializing, what books the group wants to read, where they want to sit, what rules the group wants to have, what the group wants to do during holiday breaks, etc. The facilitator helps ensure that members are given a chance to be decision makers.

        Facilitators should make sure that members are contacted if the club can’t met for any reason, like in the case of unsafe road conditions, weather, etc.

        Facilitators can be either paid staff or volunteers or both if more than one facilitator.

        Volunteer recruiting: facilitators help recruit volunteers through volunteer recruiters, student service organizations, colleges, high schools, newspaper and magazine articles about the club, word of mouth, etc.

        Facilitators should make sure that volunteers are screened and trained.

        Volunteer training: Volunteers and new facilitators should receive an hour to 1 ½ hours of training during which facilitators find out their interests, check to make sure they are committed and can volunteer for at least the length of time it takes to finish one book. NCBC recommends that if volunteers are minors they should be paired with an older volunteer or paid staff facilitator. If volunteers are students you may want to consider running the club on a school calendar.

Effective Practices:

        Support emergent readers using Echo reading. Echo reading is pointing to what you are reading and saying it and then giving the member a chance to repeat it, if they want assistance reading. By doing this you give them a chance to be part of the reading experience and it can be a real feeling of accomplishment when they are able to follow along and repeat.  “When helping a member who does not read independently, position yourself next to that member. Point to the words you are reading and encourage the member to follow along. After a brief pause, say the word (s) and wait for him or her to “echo” the words back. Encourage the member to try some smaller words on his/her own.“ After working with the group for a while you can get a sense of who needs what support.
Some more tips for echo reading: Project your voice and read with inflection. Avoid whispering words in the member’s ears. Don’t spend too much time sounding out words or correcting. It is advisable to limit the amount of echoed text to a paragraph or two.

        Have everyone follow along in their books. They might use their fingers or a bookmark to track.

        Participation may happen in different ways: facilitators should watch faces, body language to see responses and may offer a word or phrase for what the member may be communicating: “You’re shaking your head. Do you think those kids were mean?” Facilitators can ask yes/no questions, ask about pictures in the book.

        If a facilitator has difficulty connecting with a member, you may ask the member or his/her guardian, if needed, how to best communicate-with a notebook, other ways??

        Periodically summarize or ask questions about events in recent pages to assist with comprehension. You may want to stop more frequently to do this. Not everyone may comprehend same things in the same way and at the same level.  May ask “Do you think Ramona is happy or frustrated?”

        When text contains a more advanced word, stop to ask what it means or give a definition or synonym.

        Engage the senses by asking members to imagine a particular scene in the story. For example if  the characters are in the kitchen you might ask, “What do you smell in a kitchen? What noises might you hear?” Talk about sensory experience, the time period, etc. If you are reading about riding in a covered wagon you could talk about this and compare it to transportation today.

        If you have an iPad or other mobile device or laptop, you may want to use it to bring up visuals to answer questions like what does a smirk look like.

        Can discuss outside/related topics for as long as seems to be of interest to group. Let the group direct itself some of the time. Any point in story can be a spark for discussion about participants’ lives or how story and lives relate/compare. See if timing is right for a conversation or may want to save for the end. May also want to wait for natural break like when changing readers.

        Model conversation skills. Help facilitate turn taking and extending the conversation by asking follow up questions or giving follow up comments.

        Say one thing and then wait for the member to respond. Some people may need more time for processing. May give prompts for turn taking, “Would you like to know what _______did this weekend?”

        Allow time for silence and avoid responding to every question or silence. Need to make sure give time for members to process and respond. Ask members to tell a person to his/her left about a favorite character, vacation spot, etc.

        Will start to get reading rhythm and people will feel when new reader is needed.

        Vary the style of your questions. Not all members may be able to respond to open-ended questions so try some either/or or yes/no questions. Can see whether using a choice board would help or helping the member pre-program words into an assistive speech device.

        What if a a group member tries to dominate conversations? Politely and respectfully re-direct the conversation. May look at giving a visual cue to signify that it’s time for the next person to talk. May look at giving this person an assignment (one club that met to discuss movies had a member who was more verbal than others and so he was given the assignment of researching a topic related to the movie and giving everyone a brief presentation on that topic before the movie viewing started. ) Groups may want to write down their rules for everyone to follow. May want to consider having a visual that indicates when it is time to talk and when it is not.

        Help members learn each other's names.

        Initiate conversations by pointing out mutual interests and encourage members to ask each other questions. One activity could be to put a list of questions that members can ask each other in the middle of the table and have members draw a question to ask someone else.

        Encourage members to help one another with such things as finding the correct page in the book.

        Be animated in our conversations; avoid making them feel like a quiz. Model reading fluency by taking a turn reading and don’t be afraid to use voices for characters, be silly.

        Use bookmarks to scan down the page, even if members aren’t able to stay exactly in the same place at first it gives another way to follow along with their peers.

        Respond to participation with positive reinforcement, “Great job.” “Thanks for reading”. Notice when members try something new or try or can do something that they hadn’t tried or done before or expand on something that they started.

        Highlight opportunities for members to make choices.

        Allow members to interact with staff. Only offer support if needed. Encourage members to talk about the club to other customers if a customer is curious about the club.

     For more ideas on activities for NCBC, see one of the SPPL staff who attended the training as we received a list of suggested activities or ask Erin, program coordinator, to get you copies of materials. We received two copies of the NCBC book:Next Chapter Book Club: A Model Community Literacy Program for People with Intellectual Disabilities and I am keeping one copy at my desk and having the other one added to the training library if you would like to borrow this book. I also have copies of intake, tracking forms, etc.

Basic Group Management:

        Respect members’ privacy and don’t share information without permission.

        Stay flexible.

        Redirect if necessary (polite, respectful, direct). It may help to give someone who has a lot to say a task related to what you are reading like doing research on a topic related to the book that can be shared at the beginning or end of a meeting or helping to hand out books, something related that still keeps them with the group.

        When starting a book, you may want to read the summary on the back of the book or inside the cover and discuss what you think will happen. You can let people know that they can help each other with words, finding pages, etc.  if others would like to be helped.

        Monitor member attendance. Call and talk with members if not attending to find out how are feeling about the group. Check to make sure they are okay.

        Welcome visitors and involve them in the club. Give them a chance to try it out.

        Assist members in adjusting to roster changes. Talk about if a member needs to leave the group (he/she is moving, trying a different activity, etc.) so everyone can feel comfortable with change as many may feel deep friendships with the other members.

        Ask for support. Can talk to Jillian and other staff.

Communication with NCBC Main Office:

        NCBC requests affiliates notify them of changes in the affiliate’s program coordinator, media requests related to NCBC, changes in the status of the NCBC program at the affiliate’s site or questions about the Standards of Practice. (This links to a Google Doc. If you can’t open this, please contact Erin for a copy of the Standards of Practice.) NCBC does request some forms be filled out on a monthly basis to track how their clubs are doing.

Program Sustainability:
       Success of programs depends on intentionality of staff and volunteers involved.  Be sure you have someone to champion your club.

       If you are partnering with an outside organization, be sure to meet or check in with your partners regularly to make sure everyone’s on the same page and follows through on commitments.

       Consider whether you want any breaks for your club during the year like in the summer or winter holidays, etc. This can be a chance for the group to discuss and make a choice about when to meet.

NCBC Outcomes-Results from 97 member surveys showed:
        84% stated their reading improved as a result of taking part in the club.
        65% said they found new friends in the club.
        81% said they like or really like being in the club.

NCBC on Social Media:


Link to my research and proposal on how to proceed (This is a Google Doc. If you can’t access it, let me know and I can send it to you as a Word attachment.)

I am waiting to hear back from the St. Paul JCC Inclusion and Accessibility and Highland Friendship Club about whether they are interested in partnering and able to do so. If they are, we will work on starting a club at Highland Park Library. If they aren’t, then I will work on starting a club at George Latimer Central. I hope to be able to start a club in the summer or fall of 2015.

If you are interested in looking at the NCBC book, the starter set of short stories NCBC provided, getting trained on how to be a NCBC facilitator, getting more information on NCBC,  please contact me (Erin) at: 651-266-7000, #5 (ask for Erin) or erin.zolotukhin-ridgway@ci.stpaul.mn.us