Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


Archiving Sound with IRENE

With millions of early sound recordings deteriorating across various institutions throughout the nation, there is an urgency to digitize and preserve these recordings before they become unplayable. Now a revolutionary image-scanning technology called the IRENE (Image Reconstruct Erase Noise Etcetera) system has been developed by experimental physicist, Carl Haber and his colleagues. With this technology, a precise image of the grooves in records is captured by special cameras with enough detail to play back the sound not from the grooves but from the image itself. Over the last decade, IRENE has been used to extract sound from discs made from tinfoil, photosensitive glass, or wax-and-cardboard; countless of field recordings, often documenting extinct languages and/or folk rituals; early recordings of folk music; and the first playback of one of the world’s earliest recordings of a human voice from 1860.

IRENE has the potential to capture old recordings before they deteriorate any further, helping audio preservationists to buy some crucial time, however some questions remain. Will this technology prove to be scalable and affordable enough to become a practical tool for most institutions to use? But as David Giovannoni, an independent audio historian, points out, “IRENE is fantastic because it allows us to hear recordings that we otherwise would not be able to hear. The downside is cost, but the good news is that we don’t need this new technology to transfer and preserve 99.99 percent of our grooved audio heritage.” - Armando

Look Before You Link

As explained in this Gizmodo article, a proposed change to copyright law by the U.S. Copyright Office could make posting links a lot more risky. At first, I thought I might be overreacting, but I was relieved of that worry when I saw that Dan Cohen of DPLA fame had blogged about this topic. Most creators who publish their creations openly on the web want people to link to them. It would seem that this addition would inhibit that. Would libraries have to get permission to link to an open access journal? Defeats the point, doesn’t it? - David

Top Trends & Themes from SXSW Interactive

Didn’t make it to SXSW Interactive this year? Ellyssa Kroski over at iLibrarian has a great summary of “Top Trends, Themes, and Quotes of SXSW Interactive” for those of us who missed out! - Kim

 Our Bleeding Hearts

ICYMI: The Heartbleed security flaw was the news of the Internet last week. The flaw has been covered in a number of news outlets and you may have received messages from some of your favorite web services asking you to change your password. ReadWriteWeb has some great, easy to understand information about why Heartbleed is a big deal and some suggestions for steps you might take to protect your data. - Kim

 


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


From NPR: “Paper Notebooks That Become Digital Files”

A new innovation that has the ability to create digital files from paper notebooks bridging the gap between the worlds of paper and digital technology. Once the user finishes taking notes in their Mod Notebook which comes in three paper types (plain, ruled, and dot-grid), they can mail it back to the company using a prepaid shipping envelope located in the back cover. The contents of the notebook will then get scanned and digitized for free within five days, and the notebook can either be recycled or returned to the owner. Once the notebook is digitized, the notes are uploaded in the Mod app, a web app that can be accessed from any mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. The user can also sync the pages to the cloud with Dropbox, Evernote, and OneNote accounts. - Armando

EDUCAUSE Report: Top-Ten IT Issues, 2014

EDUCAUSE recently released its annual report on the top-ten IT issues in higher education, as well as a breakdown of the top-ten IT issues by Carnegie Classification. It’s always interesting (and often reassuring) to read this list and not encounter anything of great surprise. As technology-driven organizations within institutions of higher education, it’s also a useful activity for academic libraries to reflect on these issues to understand their own position within the university – to understand where we might be pushing the boundaries of IT capabilities and where we can lend a hand to overcoming some of these issues. On a micro scale, we also experience some of these same issues – moving our library applications to the cloud, improving student outcomes, etc. I look forward to the year where this report no longer includes “wireless” as an issue! - David

E-Nabling the Future 

From: E-Nabling the Future

From: E-Nabling the Future

3D Printers are popping up in a lot of places now. Quite a few libraries have joined the maker space movements and purchased a 3D printer for community use. The E-Nable group went viral when the picture of a small girl (Shea) forming a heart with her hand and 3D printed Mech-En hand was posted on Facebook. It’s a great example of the power of making technology publicly available. Consider the technology in your library and find ways to collaborate with all different communities, you never know what could happen! - Laksamee

 Read Write Web: Arduino Rising

Library makerspaces across the country have started to make use of low-cost, low-barrier-to-entry technology like the Arduino board and the Raspberry Pi. In honor of World Arduino Day (March 29th)  Read Write Web shares links to 10 neat projects you can use to get started with an Ardunio, including a talking clock, a Twitter-enabled coffee pot, and a pollutant sensor. - Kim

 


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


Fact Check your App

One of the discussions I look forward to in my library sessions involves fact checking. Students often say, it’s so easy to fact check with everything being online. However, I always ask them to go a step further. This campaign hoax around an app for drinking is a great example to bring up. The technology we are taking in everyday also needs a critical filter  and hopefully as we ask students to fact check their own research, they are also considering how critical thought applies toward more than just the written word. - Laksamee

Education Templates in Stormboard

Many of our librarians have been using Padlet this semester for student collaboration in a variety of classes. Recently, Stormboard was featured on Free Technology for Teachers as a similar tool, with additional features including templates for a variety of brainstorming and planning needs. Sticky notes, videos, documents, images, and sketches can be added to each “Storm” (i.e., “brainstorm” board). The “Storms” also searchable, each note can be color-coded, and users can leave comments on each piece of the board. The free version is capped at 5 users per “Storm” and requires users to create an account to participate. These limitations may make Stormboard more useful as an brainstorming tool for individuals or  small teams. - Kim

Foursquare and Recommendations

From ReadWriteWeb – An interesting interview with mobile app Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley about the beginning of Foursquare, “anticipatory computing,” and the power of data in apps like Foursquare to recommend or predict our future actions. As libraries continue to be concerned with data privacy and ownership, is there a safe way we could harness data like that collected in mobile apps to recommend information sources to our users? Does that cross the line? - Kim

XKCD: Manuals

And now a little technology humor, brought to you by XKCD.

XKCD Manuals comic

From XKCD: Manuals

We’ve been doing some usability testing on the library’s website over the past three weeks and this comic seemed to hit-the-nail-on-the-head with regards to creating a user-friendly website. They shouldn’t need a manual (or any other instruction) to navigate the website! - Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

Design Without Designers

Psychology poster created in Canva

Psychology poster created in Canva

Librarians produce a surprising number of flyers, posters, handouts, signage, and other objects used to instruct or inform our users. While many of these items are utilitarian and just need to get the job done, ideally we’d also like them to look good. Some of us can take advantage of campus multimedia design centers with designers to help bring large projects to life, but the typical academic librarian probably has not taken a graphic design class and may or may not dabble in Photoshop. Although some design-daring librarians venture into Adobe Illustrator, more often that not we fall back to comfortable office applications like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, making projects look “good enough” in programs that were not built for design work.

Recently inspired by sites like Librarian Design Share, I have been trying to jazz up my usual library instruction handouts and collection promotion materials. While I know what I like when I see it and I have spent plenty of time fiddling with projects in Microsoft Publisher, I’ve never developed what you might call the “designer’s eye” necessary to create truly beautiful designs.

Canva

I signed up for Canva, currently in beta, a few months ago when I first read about it at Free Technology for Teachers, hoping it would push me to overcome some of my design stumbling blocks.  Thanks to our latest snow days here on the East Coast, I’ve finally found the opportunity to play around with the site. By providing both pre-fab design templates and customizable objects in one easy-to-use package, Canva is an online service that aims to help average Internet users create beautiful design projects.

Creating in Canva

After signing up for a free account, you can access design templates for pre-sized cards, social media graphics, presentations, posters, blog graphics, Facebook covers, photo collages, business cards, and invitations. You can also create your own design using custom dimensions.

Selecting a new design in Canva

Selecting a new design in Canva

After starting a new project, edit your design by choosing layouts, applying backgrounds, and adding text or images using the menu on the left-hand side of the design canvas. You can also search through over one million images, shapes, lines, banners, icons, stickers, buttons, text holders, and so on, or upload your own images to the project. Canva’s drag and drop interface makes it easy to select and drag items from the menu tray to the design canvas, then resize and arrange objects as necessary. You can also adjust the colors of each object on the design canvas, add text, and change fonts (choosing from the 100+ available, with no Comic Sans in sight).

Working in Canva

Working in Canva

Although Canva offers many free images and layouts, the site also includes a large amount of “premium” content (including images, backgrounds, etc.) that you can choose to purchase for your design. Premium objects are offered via a $1, one-time use license. While this means you need to purchase premium objects each time you use them in various projects, the final cost is still lower than purchasing other stock photo options.

Completed projects can be shared via social media (Twitter and Facebook). downloaded as an image (PNG file), or downloaded as a PDF. Canva also provides a direct link for the design project, which you can use to collaborate with others on your design. This can be useful for sharing your design with project team members or for sending design prototypes to other stakeholders for input before producing the final product.

Tutorials

Although Canva is easy to use, it doesn’t exactly take all of the guess work out of creating beautiful designs. Customizing the colors, arranging objects on the canvas, and selecting fonts still requires some what of a “designers eye” to be truly effective. Canva currently offers five quick, hands-on tutorials that guide you through improving design-related skills, including choosing fonts, using color palettes, and understanding layouts. Each step in the tutorials features a “Learn” section that discusses a design principle, and a “Do” section in which you practice the design skill. Each “Do” section also includes a “Need a hint” button, which links to an instructional video that demonstrates how to accomplish the task. Working through these tutorials didn’t make me a graphic designer, but they did help me understand the basics of what I need to do in order to create better looking projects.

Projects in Libraries

Given the large number of templates and pre-defined project types, Canva could be useful for a wide variety of projects in the average academic library. This could include designing library instruction or other workshop presentations, posters and signage, flyers, handouts, and other promotional materials. Additionally, as academic librarians become more active in promoting and encouraging visual literacy, Canva could be a tool for students to use during library instruction sessions that promote engaging with and creating visual media.

Although Canva does not promise to make everyone a designer, it could be a useful tool for taking the next step in stretching our design muscles. What are some projects you’re working on that could use a little design upgrade?

Tech Roundup

We’re back with a new “Tech Roundup!”

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


Indoor Positioning Technology. “We’re Here!”

Well, almost. Companies like Shopcloud are working on methods to utilize your mobile device and existing components to assist in navigation inside buildings, where GPS fears to tread. According to this TechCrunch article, their application “INSIDE” uses your smartphone’s camera and gyro sensors to identify your location and then uses the devices sensors to track your movements. This method allows them to learn the uniqueness of each individual’s movement, creating a system that improves its precision as it gets to know you. Like most startups, Shopcloud seems to be focused on retail and other money-making entities, but technologies like this will be valuable for library users. How many years until the “Where’s the restroom?” question becomes obsolete? - David

Need a personal OPAC?

Is your library at home getting out of hand? Have you loaned books, movies, or games to friends and forgotten to get them back.  Ever been and Barnes & Noble or on Amazon and wondered… do I already have this?  Perhaps it’s time to make a catalog of your personal media library.  A few good software packages exist to help you manage your stuff:

For Windows: MediaMan: Free to try or $34. This application lets you use the webcam in PC to scan the barcodes on your items against the Amazon database and automatically adds the details for you. It has a lending feature along with out great features.

For Mac: Delicious Library 3:  Free to try or $25.   This application lets you use the webcam in your Mac to scan the barcodes on your items against the Amazon database and automatically adds the details for you. Delicious Library also keeps track of the cost of the items in your collection (Good to know for your insurance company) and has a lending feature.

For Linux: For those looking for an OpenSource product that will run on Linux you can try GCstar.

Eric

Balancer – A Political Bias Calculator for Google Chrome

Teaching students about evaluating sources is an integral part of information literacy. Most students understand that what they are seeing from a Google search is often skewed. However, without enough background knowledge anyone has a hard time assessing bias and assessing the balance of a perspective. Balancer is a plug-in for Google Chrome which will indicate the political bias on a website. The plug-in is part of a larger research project from the University of Michigan’s School of Information and has produced some articles worth a read through. - Laksamee

WebRTC

I recently listened to a 90 minute “The Web Ahead” podcast about a cool new project called WebRTC. If you’re really interested in the technical aspects of the project and its use cases, I’d encourage you to check out the podcast. In short, WebRTC facilitates peer-to-peer conversation (video & audio) via a (supported) web browser. (Think Webex, GoTo Meeting, etc. without the annoying installations.) To see its capabilities in practice, check out Talky. For libraries, this could be an easy way to turn a 90 minute IM conversation into a 60 second screen sharing session. - David

Wired Campus: “Futurist Attends Educause Conference via ‘Doppelbot’”

Conferences continue to be an important venue for librarians to share their work and exchange new ideas with colleagues from across the U.S. and around the world. With limited amounts of time and funding to attend the many great conferences, librarians also turn to alternative means to participate in their favorite evens (e.g., virtual participation, following along with Twitter hashtags, etc.). What if you could send a robot surrogate to the conference for you, à la the hit TV show Big Bang Theory? That’s what educational technology consultant and “futurist” Bryan Alexander did with this year’s Educause Learning Initiative conference, as reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus. Alexander attended the conference via a “telepresence robot,” which he could maneuver around the conference venue and interact with fellow conference goers via the robot-mounted iPad. - Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

Librarianship on Twitter

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Laksamee Putnam, highlighting her choices for librarians to follow on Twitter that reflect today’s profession!

Image

Recently on Business Insider the above image was used in a list of the 10 least stressful jobs in America. My bemused reaction can be appropriately animated through Twilight Sparkle. So, I’ve created a list of my own. Here are a few library people I follow on twitter, advocates for librarianship who better reflect us in the here and now.  Librarians have broken out of the stereotype that image displays, we are using social media, following tech trends and contributing to the media culture of today. I think you’ll find us to be like any other professional group, frequently stressed out about our work, but still passionate about what we do.

1. Andy Woodworth @wawoodworth

Andy Woodworth is a New Jersey librarian. He was a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Andy even managed to get a response from the Old Spice guy. You can read more about that and more on his blog. His twitter feed is a great mix of real life, library humor and library advocacy.

2. Librarian Wardrobe @LibWardrobe

Edited by four stylish librarians who are worth following in their own right (@pumpedlibrarian, @catladylib, @magpielibrarian, & @beccakatharine) Librarian Wardrobe originally began on tumblr, archiving and showcasing how librarians do not fit the stereotype of the image above. Be on the look out, and be ready to look your best at Midwinter or Annual!

3. Jason Vance @jvance

A librarian at Middle Tennessee State University, Jason Vance recently gained infamy through his tumblr, The Lives and Deaths of Academic Library Staplers However, I previously followed him when he was active on @politelibrarian and blogging for A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette.  Jason is a great candidate for #followalibrarian, his days are filled with humorous accounts of meetings, reference interactions and typical academic library antics. 

4. Sarah Houghton @TheLiB

The Librarian in Black recently celebrated it’s 10th birthday! Sarah Houghton has a a great voice and is a wonderful resource for technology in libraries. Her posts are thought provoking and her library advocacy is always strong, well thought out and practical. I highly recommend reading through her blog and following her.

5. David Lee King @davidleeking

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. His active twitter and blog presence make him a fount of technology information. Frequently, his reviews of digital tools and examples of creative uses of social media within libraries have inspired me to start a new project.

6. Librarian Problems @librarianprblms

This is real life people. Nothing describes the insanity of a workplace better than a well worded and executed GIF. The tumblr  gets funnier the longer you read, but be ready to explain to your coworkers why you’re laughing uncontrollably in your cubicle. Props to @williamottens for creating something that makes the stress of my day manageable.

Laksamee Putnam is a Research & Instruction Librarian at Towson University, Albert S. Cook Library.  She is specifically liaison to the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.  Laksamee holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.  Her research interests focus on the use of emerging technologies and social media in science.   Find out more about her here or follow her on Twitter!

Tech Roundup

Technology Committee members here at Towson University’s Cook Library are always on the hunt for new technology applications to bring into the library or technology-related issues our library should be addressing.  As we scour the internet for important, interesting, or just plain cool examples of technology applications, issues, or news, we post links and  summaries with our take here to the blog.


Tumblr’s Top 10 Tech of 2013

It’s that time of year again – the internet has begun to highlight the top technology trends of 2013! This rundown is based on Tumblr’s most popular technology posts and tags of the year. Although some of the tech trends are a stretch for libraries (see: robotic spider dress), others like the “Prototype Read/Digital Info Interface System,” the 3Doodler, or the Mataerial demonstrate innovative new ways people may interact with or create information. - Kim

RGB Colorspace Atlas

Does your library need a book with all the possible RGB colors? Well first you might want to test your color perception to see if you’ll even be able to distinguish all that variety. As more things become digital it’s interesting to see how the book is used as a format to express ideas in a different way. What other ways are books moving past their covers? - Laksamee

Amazon and the Drone-Delivery Revolution

This article rightly points out that Amazon is not the first company to put forward the idea of delivery by drones, and as the article suggests, possibly, this is more a marketing gimmick than a service in development. Think about the “wow” factor for libraries if books were delivered by drones; perhaps the checkout barrier of patrons retrieving books would no longer be an issue. Unfortunately, as with many things, by the time something like this would make its way to the library world, it would be an expectation rather than a stroke of genius. My guess is that no library has started even imagining drone-based delivery of library books. Even if the Amazon story is a marketing ploy, it is evidence of imagineering and R&D at Amazon. Hardly a fair comparison, but what’s our 10-year vision for resource sharing? - David

High Tech Librarian’s Holiday Shopping Guide

Suggestions for the high-tech librarian’s holiday wish list – Eric

  • Tablets: Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display - The iPad Air is very cool but the iPad Mini is a good mix of size and great features. From $399.
  • E-readers: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite - An inexpensive update to the black and white Kindle that includes a touch screen and built in reading light. $119
  • Caffeine: Bunn My Cafe MCU - Brews K-Cups, ground coffee, soft coffee & tea pods, tea bags, and loose tea. Coffee or tea in under a minute with 4 to 14 ounce serving sizes. From: 139.99. Pairs well with the Caffeine Molecule T-shirt 
  • For Under $10: Twiddle Desk Fidget Toy, $9.99.
  • Something just for you: Amazon Prime - FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items. No minimum order size. Unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video. A Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. $79 a year.

Formatting Rules for Tweets

As librarians continue to capitalize on social media to interact with our community, it’s important to not only understand the culture and purpose of various sites, but to also keep up with the structural differences between each platform. For instance, as this post from Lifehacker explains, did you know if you start a tweet with another person’s handle, only the users who follow you AND the other person will see it? Starting the tweet with a different character (e.g., putting including a period before handle) the will expand your reach! - Kim


What do you think about some of the issues or technologies presented?  Have you found anything interesting online this week? Share in the comments!

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