Thursday, April 16, 2015


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

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