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Your Library Can Do Minecraft; Here's How


Kids playing Minecraft

The Groton Public Library, part of the Finger Lakes Library System, runs a simple Minecraft program that has led to a boost in youth attendance and book circulations. Additionally, Minecraft has had a positive influence on the lives of the young patrons who play it, increasing creativity, teaching cooperation, and even helping develop social skills.

Why Consider Minecraft?

Minecraft is especially popular with elementary and middle school-age kids, and is a tremendous draw that can bring this age group into the library on a consistent basis.

Minecraft books are also immensely popular. Since the beginning of 2015, a number of Minecraft books rank near the top in total circulations at Groton. This includes both "how-to" non-fiction books and fan-created fiction.

Sean Fay Wolfe at Groton Public Library

In September 2015, Groton hosted Sean Fay Wolfe, a rising star in the world of Minecraft literature. More than 50 youth turned out for this author visit, with each family getting a free autographed copy of one of Wolfe's books.

Minecraft players learn to cooperate with one another to survive, have their creativity spurred, and learn basic social skills as they interact with each other and library staff. A number of Groton kids have shown tremendous social growth from playing Minecraft — a benefit that has measureless worth.

Creating Children's Story Animations Using Inkscape and Animatron


I'm a big fan of the Inkscape vector graphics program, which is a no-cost equivalent of Adobe Illustrator and runs on all major computer platforms (Linux, Macintosh, and Windows). Back in 2007, I created a short promotional video showing the range of graphics that people can make using Inkscape.

Inkscape, when paired with Animatron (a freemium HTML5 online animation tool), can be used for creating narrated, animated children's stories. These tools might also be used to create multimedia motion graphics stories for libraries, nonprofits, foundations, government agencies, and more.

TechSoup Product Donations That Our Library Members Like Best


From time to time, we like to check to see what product donations public libraries particularly like among the more than 400 offerings on TechSoup. We thought you might like to know what your colleagues are interested in.

Hidden Gems for Libraries

From reading programs to language dictionaries, these products are especially popular among our library members. There might be something on this list you haven't yet considered for your library!

5 Ideas for Your Library's Pinterest Account


Is your Pinterest account in need of a refresh or new ideas? Or perhaps you're just getting started in the Pinterest world and need some (p)inspiration? Lucky for you, we just had Lauren Drittler, assistant director of the Arkansas River Valley Regional Library System (ARVRLS) and Pinterest expert, on our October webinar, Pinterest for Libraries: Building Community Through Social Media.

Under Lauren's supervision, the ARVRLS has 61 boards and 1,600 followers. She was first inspired by the Sacramento Public Library's tremendous Pinterest account (4,400 followers!). She wrote to the Sacramento library and asked for some tips for building up a Pinterest account. Here's how the librarian, Amy Loseth, responded:

"In general, we aspire to be entertaining, engaging, and educational, just like the library itself."

Here are some of the key tips Lauren shared during our webinar:

1. Create Pinterest Boards That Build on Your Existing Library Programs

Lauren showed us the ARVRLS' Play Date and Lego My Lego boards, which are based on the library's current programs. These boards let your program attendees take their projects or learnings home with them along with related craft ideas or more information on a certain subject. Some other ideas might be a craft board, a computer basics board, or a board built around a book club theme.

Lego my lego

10 Tips for Protecting Your Online Privacy and Identity


shiny lock on green door

These tips from the Internet Society not only can help all of us as individual consumers, but they're also useful for your library's basic computer or tech skills classes. This blog was originally published on the TechSoup blog

For a lot of us, shopping season is just around the corner. And for those of us who can't be bothered with crowded malls or lines at the register — it's online shopping season.

But before you spend time loading up your online shopping cart, take a few minutes to learn a little about managing your digital footprint and also protecting your online privacy. When it comes to your online privacy and identity — knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving. Here are 10 tips that can help from the Internet Society!

The Best Online Safety Resources for YOUR Organization

Plucking a password

This blog originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. We wanted to share it with our library audience because there's a special section on teaching privacy to library patrons as well as a section on teaching Internet security to kids. What resources do you use at your library to teach Internet security? 

There are a handful of things each of us should do to keep secure online, right? We should make our passwords long and strong, keep our software updated, and all the stuff they list on

But wait. There's more! We know that one size does not fit all, when it comes to teaching and learning about online security. Luckily, there are some great Internet safety resources that are specific for healthcare organizationslibrariesseniorskids, and small offices (like the ones that most nonprofits have). Here are some of those that we like.

How Libraries Are Participating in Domestic Violence Awareness Month (with Book List!)


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. TechSoup is participating by amplifying what other agencies, collaborators, and libraries in our network are doing to raise awareness around this important issue. Here are a few ways libraries are participating this month.

Building Community Interest with Pinterest: Library Boards to Follow


Pinterest cake

When you think of Pinterest, interior decorating ideas, vacation aspirations, and overly complicated recipes might come to mind. But a lot of libraries are using Pinterest to build up community interest with boards ranging from reader advisory to showcasing historical archives to promoting library events and programs.

TechSoup for Libraries recently did a webinar with Lauren Drittler of the Arkansas River Valley Regional Library System. As the assistant director, Lauren has created 61 boards and has built up 1,600 followers to the library's Pinterest account. Watch the webinar here:

I thought I'd share a few other interesting and successful library Pinterest accounts to check out for your own library's Pinterest goals.

6 Ways to Keep Your Organization Secure

woman's hands putting credit card information into laptop

Like most nonprofits, your organization likely deals with a lot of data: donor contacts, details about the clients you serve, and data collected in the field. What if that data was compromised by malware, a virus, or a hacker? The right combination of security tools can help your organization stay locked down without getting in the way of your other tasks.

We think that every organization should make security a priority, and we want to help you do that. For the entire month of October, TechSoup and many of our donor partners will be participating in National Cyber Security Awareness Month (also known as NCSAM). We thought we'd kick things off by introducing some of the security tools in our catalog and sharing some helpful resources from our donor partners.

5 Questions You Might Have About Keeping Your Library’s Technology Secure


You're about to get hacked!!

Patron data. Connected devices. Open Wi-Fi. Public access computers. You may not realize it, but your library is a gold mine for hackers, malware, and other security threats.

To help you keep your computers and devices safe from a security disaster, we've come up with some good answers to a few security questions you might be pondering and some resources to help you get the right solutions for your library.

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