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Best Practices for Helping Patrons with E-Readers

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E-reader assistance

"I love that I can check out e-books from you … but I have no idea how to make them work."

The other day, my friend and I had a work party at my local library. My friend had another agenda, however: to finally figure out how to check out e-books from the library on her iPad. Despite being tech-savvy, she was having issues getting through all of the different steps the e-books required to work on her iPad.

Turns out, this happens frequently. My colleague Jim Lynch wrote about his personal experience in Why Is It So Hard to Use E-Books from the Library?

Assistive Technology Tips from Expert Librarians

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Assistive technology continues to be an important topic as public libraries strive to become more inclusive spaces for all members of the community. The American Library Association has a clear policy on accessibility:

"Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. Libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources and services meet the needs of all people." 

Accessibility is also a big part of the Edge Initiative, an assessment program that provides libraries with benchmarks, best practices, and resources for public technology services. 

Edge Benchmark 11 states:

"Libraries ensure participation in digital technology for people with disabilities."

Sounds pretty straightforward, but how do you actually implement this practice? We invited three speakers on our February webinar to share their unique experiences with assistive technology:

Common Craft's Video Love Letter to Libraries

Did you know that 98% of public libraries offer some form of technology training? And 95% offer employment and workforce development programs? Of course you do.

Libraries know all about how libraries support access to and use of technology. Unfortunately, in many cases the same can't be said of your legislators, local voters, the mainstream media, and others who may influence public library funding and support.

Common Craft put together a snappy video to help libraries address this perception issue. 

Content Management Systems for Library Websites

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A well-designed, up-to-date website is critical for a library of any size. Your patrons rely on your website for basic information about your library, such as directions to a branch or upcoming events. They also may go to your website hoping to search an online public access catalog (OPAC), download an e-book, or browse an online exhibit. A content management system, or CMS, can help you provide these services and manage them effectively, whether you have a volunteer managing your site or an entire department doing so.

Teen on a computer at the library

A CMS is essentially a software package that lets you create and edit website content — including text, pictures, menus, and more — without having to know how to write code. 

Why the Clean Reader App Negatively Impacts Literacy

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Generally, I'm all for mobile apps or computer programs that support literacy. TechSoup for Libraries had a webinar a few months ago, in fact, on ways librarians can incorporate apps and technology into story time.

But when I heard about Clean Reader, the app that scrubs out "profanity" from books and replaces it with alternative words, I was offended. It's not explicit language that makes me grimace, but the fact that this app is a blatant form of censorship.

Your Library Can Support Makers Without Having a Makerspace

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Some school and public libraries around the world are setting up makerspaces or creative tinkering spaces, but not every library has the space or budget to do so. How can your library support makers without having its own makerspace? There are lots of ways to do it. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Resources for Training Library Staff on Mobile Operating Systems

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"How can I get [insert type of e-resource or content] on my [insert type of mobile device]?"

If your library offers some sort of electronic resource, whether it be e-books, audiobooks, or simply your online catalog, you've probably heard this question before. Perhaps you get more basic, non-library-specific technology questions about mobile devices, like "How do I check my email?" or "Where can I watch a YouTube video?" No matter how large your library is or where it's located, you surely have patrons using mobile devices.

Why Is It So Hard to Use E-books from the Library?

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I would dearly love to say that e-books from the public library are wondrous things. Come to think of it, I did make that case in my post, Why Public Libraries Are Better than Amazon.

However, recently I had occasion to despair of the library e-book experience when I tried to check out Robin Hastings' book — Making the Most of the Cloud: How to Choose and Implement the Best Services for Your Library — from my local library.

Can You Get Tech Advice from a Print Book?

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I was scanning the ALA Store when a book caught my eye: Technology for Small and One-Person Libraries: A LITA Guide. Given how many of our TechSoup for Libraries members come from small libraries, I thought this book would be a great subject for our very first book review! Is this guide something that belongs on every rural librarian's shelves? Can you get technology tips from a printed book? Will even the tech-savviest of librarians get something out of this book? Yes, yes, … and yes!

A Quick Caveat on Books About Tech

I'm possibly stating the obvious here, but it's important to note that when you buy a book on technology, there is almost always going to be something out-of-date in it. Technology moves so fast that even if the publisher were to continuously release updated versions of the book, it still couldn't keep up.

 Technology for Small and One-Person Libraries was published in 2013, and although the authors do a great job of keeping the descriptions and names of technology general, there is some information that isn't quite current. For example, the social media chapter lists a few platforms and tools to check out, but doesn't include Tumblr, Instagram, or Pinterest, which have become quite popular among libraries.  

How to Recruit and Engage Tech Volunteers at Your Library

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Could your library use some assistance in staffing? Whether you work at a large city library or a small one- or two-staff-member rural library, volunteers can make a huge difference! But how do you recruit, manage, and engage volunteers? How do you make sure your volunteers keep coming back?

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