February 10, 2016

Small-Scale Usability Studies | Field Reports

We knew there were problems with our library website at Fitchburg State University (FSU). Users either couldn’t find what they wanted or were unaware of the site’s existence. This was particularly a problem owing to the limited number of librarians available to assist. While there was some consensus among librarians regarding these design problems, there was little agreement as to how these problems could be ­addressed. We decided that usability testing was needed before making changes, but we didn’t have the budget to develop an expensive usability lab with one-way mirrors, sophisticated eye-movement testing devices and the like. Despite this, with a little creativity, we were able to design a solid and reliable usability study with limited resources.

Linux Privacy Essentials | Field Reports

Providing Internet access to the public has come to be an important service, but it can be quite a challenge to do so in a secure, cost-effective way. Maintaining patron privacy on a shared, public computer is one of the problems that librarians face every day. My solution was to switch to an open source (OS) platform for our patron computing.

On Demand | Academic Media

Whether the topic of discussion is electronic resources, collection development policies, or patron-driven acquisition, academic librarians have a history of giving media and video short shrift, argues deg farrelly, media librarian and streaming video administrator for Arizona State University Libraries (ASU).

Fewer Dollars, More Sense | Field Reports

Managing library computers for staff and the public can be a daunting task. Keeping track of licenses and equipment and maintaining them can be difficult, especially in a ten-branch system with a couple of hundred machines. But smaller, less expensive computers have been coming on the market lately, and at the Somerset County Library System (SCLS), NJ, we have been using these solutions to assist our staff and patrons with daily functions. Whether it be a Raspberry PI for a digital sign, a Chromebook/Box/Base for the public or staff to use, or a ZBOX for checkout, they all cost less, run faster, and work just as well as their costly counterparts.

Fewer Dollars, More Sense | Field Reports

Managing library computers for staff and the public can be a daunting task. Keeping track of licenses and equipment and maintaining them can be difficult, especially in a ten-branch system with a couple of hundred machines. But smaller, less expensive computers have been coming on the market lately, and at the Somerset County Library System (SCLS), NJ, we have been using these solutions to assist our staff and patrons with daily functions. Whether it be a Raspberry PI for a digital sign, a Chromebook/Box/Base for the public or staff to use, or a ZBOX for checkout, they all cost less, run faster, and work just as well as their costly counterparts.

The Human Network | The Digital Shift

The librarians who are thriving most consistently in the digital era are those who have found a way to operate as a node in a network of libraries and librarians. They are agents of change, actively creating the future instead of constantly reacting to it—or worse, resisting it.

A Place To Feel Smart Again | The Digital Shift

Gerontologist Debbie Dodds developed a tablet-based workshop program with the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, CA, for people with early-stage memory loss. She and library representatives will present on the pilot at LJ’s all-day virtual event The Digital Shift this October 14. In the run-up to the conference, LJ caught up with Dodd to learn more.

Wisdom of the Crowd | Digital Collections

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Even at large libraries that have staff dedicated to digitization projects, the additional effort needed to enable researchers to extract data from these collections—such as transcribing OCR-resistant text, or adding item-level tags to large collections of images—would be an untenable chore for a library to take on alone. So, in the past half decade, libraries have taken cues from long-running projects, using crowdsourcing as a way not only to outsource work that would be impossible for staff to attempt but also to engage volunteers.

Manage the Device Deluge | Professional Development

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Librarians have always taught patrons how to use the tools that serve their information needs. We had to explain card catalogs, vertical files, microfilm/fiche, photocopiers, and OPACs. The fundamental difference about the tech needs of the 21st century is the ever-changing variety of personal devices that patrons use to access our services. Some libraries are lucky enough to have dedicated staff with special training to serve these patrons directly, but most of the time it’s a library generalist fielding question after question about something new every day. How do frontline staffers with self-taught or very basic knowledge of technology stay savvy about the latest and hottest gadgets? How do we train nontechnical staff to troubleshoot effectively and train our patrons to use their own gadgets?

Ending the Invisible Library | Linked Data

Ending the Invisible Library | Linked Data

To explain the utility of ­semantic search and linked data, Jeff Penka, director of channel and product development for information management solutions provider Zepheira, uses a simple exercise. Type “Chevy Chase” into Google’s search box, and in addition to a list of links, a panel appears on the right of the screen, displaying photos of the actor, a short bio, date of birth, height, full name, spouses and children, and a short list of movies and TV shows in which he has starred. Continue typing the letters “ma” into the search box, and the panel instantly changes, showing images, maps, current weather, and other basic information regarding the town of Chevy Chase, MD.