Introducing “Tech Roundups!”

We have a new feature on Library Tech Talk!

Our 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’ll be posting links and  summaries with our take here to the blog. Please enjoy our first Tech Roundup!


FoldIt is an online game which allows people to create proteins. It is also a great example of the power of making information openly accessible. Proteins can be made into various shapes, but some shapes are better than others; create a better protein, get more points. With the potential to empower ordinary people to create scientific discoveries, citizen science projects like FoldIt show how scientists who share their data can benefit from people all over the world who are interested enough to spend time manipulating and interpreting their data for them. And this is not limited to science. Many archives have created projects that utilize crowd sourcing to help transcribe and digitize older documents (e.g., Papers of the War Department  and Transcribe Bentham).

To hear more formally about this topic, check out the webcast of this WebWise 2012 event, Session 2 – Sharing Public History Work: Crowdsourcing Data and Sources. 

Submitted by Laksamee

New eBook Survey Findings From OverDrive and ALA: “Library Borrowers Also Buyers”

Publishers and authors sometimes argue that they will never receive proper compensation from library e-book subscriptions.  One proposed solution is that publishers should set limits on annual access for each e-book subscription.  However, this recent article from OverDrive and ALA provides evidence that library patrons are purchasing e books that they initially access at the library.  All e-Resources have relevance to our work. If publisher’s set limits on subscriptions it could become a huge financial burden to the library.  If there is proof that libraries are feeding the industry, limits should not be enforced.

Submitted by Shannon


From the W3C: “The Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL, pronounced “smile”) enables simple authoring of interactive audiovisual presentations. SMIL is typically used for “rich media”/multimedia presentations which integrate streaming audio and video with images, text or any other media type. SMIL is an easy-to-learn HTML-like language, and many SMIL presentations are written using a simple text-editor.”  The W3C’s site includes links to tutorials and software, including authoring tools and software. The SMIL Wikipedia article also mentions that  SMIL is being used in mobile devices to deliver content in the Multimedia Messaging Service; for advanced interactivity in HD DVD; and in digital signage. For more information, check out SMIL 3.0: Flexible multimedia for Web, mobile devices and Daisy talking books by Dick C.A. Bulterman and Lloyd Rutledge.

Submitted by Paul

“Google wants to turn Chrome into a videoconferencing tool

The article discusses how Google is working to enable its Chrome browser to natively support video conferencing.  If this plan comes to fruition, it would offer students and librarians a simple and inexpensive way to video conference.

Submitted by Matt M.

“As Libraries Go Digital, Sharing of Data is at Odds with Tradition of Privacy”

This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses some issues surrounding balancing traditional notions of “privacy” with libraries increased push for data sharing, particularly with regards to increasing our social-media related activities. I think there are some really good examples here demonstrating one struggle librarians are facing daily – how do we embrace new and future technologies to add value to our services, while staying true to our core traditions and values? As a library patron, I think a project like that described at Harvard is really neat and I would be curious to see, in real-time, which books are popular with other users. However, as a librarian I’m keenly aware of some of the potential privacy concerns harvesting user data like this can present. How do we reconcile and best use technological advances with our own professional values?

Submitted by 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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