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Discover Microsoft's 5 Software Assurance Benefits

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This post was originally published on the TechSoup.org blog. At the Innovative Libraries Online Conference, we got a lot of questions about Microsoft's Software Assurance and the Volume Licensing Service Center. We thought calling out some of the top benefits will be useful for other libraries that have received Microsoft donations through TechSoup. 

If your nonprofit or public library received donated Microsoft software through TechSoup, you probably used the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) to get your software. But did you know there are special perks from Microsoft, too?

In case you're not familiar, the VLSC is an online tool for managing Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements, downloading products, and accessing volume license keys. Microsoft includes two years of Software Assurance with all Volume Licensing products it donates through TechSoup.

Software Assurance is a collection of benefits included with Microsoft products requested through TechSoup. Here are five — no, wait, six! — great and unexpected benefits you can take advantage of via this program.

Sarena Fletcher Brings Making to Delaware Public Libraries

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As a maker, I love nimble. Nimble means able to move fast. The state of Delaware was nimble when it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Today, the state is moving fast to bring making and creativity to its public libraries.

I noticed on Twitter that the person spearheading this is Sarena Fletcher, an administrative librarian for Delaware Division of Libraries. I caught up with Sarena recently to hear her story, recorded in this short audio interview on YouTube. 

I loved hearing from Sarena how the Delaware libraries are working in partnership with the Barrel of Makers makerspace to teach Scratch computer programming classes at the libraries. The only other makerspace I know of that's partnering with a public library is the Santa Barbara Makerspace in California.

4 Things Non-Designers Should Know About Graphic Design

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This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. Because librarians sometimes need to think like graphic designers (think program flyers, website redesigns, and posters!), we thought the TechSoup for Libraries community would find it useful.   

 

Vermeer painting of Girl with a Pearl Earring with the girl holding a camera

The future is a visual one. These days, people often share images that communicate a wealth of nuanced information (rather than relying on words), and visual literacy is becoming a requirement. Given this new reality, how can we communicate with and engage our communities?

Meggan Frost, public services librarian for Paul Smith's College in upstate New York, gave a knockout presentation on graphic design recently for the Nebraska Library Commission. She explained that when something is designed well, it makes us want to get closer to it. It makes us pay attention.

She offered four fundamentals of graphic design to guide us in creating materials that will engage others, as well as three useful shortcuts — plus some bonus information on how to find inspiration.

Here are Meggan's tips on the four fundamentals of graphic design.

Library Homework Help – What Works and What Doesn't?

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Homework wordcloud

According to a 2013 ALA survey, almost all U.S. public libraries now offer online and in-person homework assistance?. In rural areas, this service is especially important because the library offers high-speed broadband access that many homes can't afford.

Urban areas have their own challenges that also include lack of Internet access. We decided to have a look at what is working well — and not so well — in the world of library homework help programs.

Pew Research finds that 54 percent of teachers say all or almost all of their students have access at school to the digital tools they need to be academically successful, but just 18 percent say the same is true for their students at home. The Miami Herald recently reported on how critical the Miami Dade libraries are in addressing this need.

Tips, Tricks, and Advice for Collecting Wi-Fi Stats at Your Library

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Last month in our newsletter, we asked our members how they collected Wi-Fi statistics at their respective libraries through a short survey. This month, we're excited to share those results with you!

A Quick Breakdown of the Numbers:

Before we delve into the results, a quick caveat: this is in no way a broad representation of how libraries gather statistics. There was a total of 27 respondents to our survey, so we can't draw any general conclusions about how libraries gather statistics, but there is still plenty of advice we wanted to share with other libraries.

Fifty-nine percent of our respondents said that they do collect Wi-Fi statistics.

When we asked how they collected statistics, 31 percent of our respondents said that their Wi-Fi hardware has a built-in tool that gets the job done.

But the largest category of respondents, 47.6 percent, answered that they used a different tool than what we listed (see pie chart below).

The Community Connector: Referring Social Services at the Library

No matter where they're located, libraries help patrons navigate information about housing, employment, counseling, health, and other important human services. To support making these connections for their communities, libraries have been exploring new tools, programming, and staffing options.

For example, larger libraries, such as the San Francisco Public Library, have hired full-time social workers as part of their staff. The Santa Cruz Public Library, a smaller library, has a community information database.

In our April webinar, TechSoup for Libraries partnered with our friends at WebJunction to hear about how three libraries of varying sizes use social referral services, resources, and programs to support their communities. Our guest speakers were:

The wonderful thing about these programs is that they can easily be adopted by other libraries — both large and small.

How the Natalia Library Meets Community Needs on an All-Donation Budget

This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. The Natalia Veteran's Memorial Library has to make hard decisions about how to meet its community's needs on an extraordinarily limited all-donation budget. Here's how the library does it. 

The Natalia Veteran's Memorial Library serves the small town of Natalia, Texas. It's open 25 hours a week, with a staff of one. With extremely limited resources, librarian Amy Edge must make difficult decisions every day about what her library can provide. Whenever she's making those tough decisions, she asks herself which option will do more to improve the lives of Natalia residents.

Help Youth Find a Free Meal and a Safe Place This Summer

Last year was our first summer launching Range, an app that helps libraries, community leaders, and other trusted referrers locate free summer meals for youth.

We learned a lot. We learned who really used Range and how referrers shared information with youth and families. We learned that public librarians tended to print our posters to share Range with their community, we learned that food bank staff were using Range to refer youth and families to free meal sites, and we learned that app users wanted Range to also include information about safe places for youth.

And because we know libraries, we knew they were the perfect safe place.

Why Public Libraries Need to Proactively Teach Chromebooks to the Public

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Ten years ago, I started my current public library job in Takoma Park, Maryland. Soon after I started the job, several Hurricane Katrina refugees arrived at my public library. It's scary to lose your entire city to a hurricane. When you show up in a new city, it's vital that the people you meet welcome you as valued members of their community.

One of these refugees, Desiree, was a wheelchair user. When she asked me for help in obtaining a donated computer, I put her at the front of my list of waiting recipients. When a donated Dell desktop came in, I set it up for her in her apartment and told her to contact me when it wasn't working.

Over the years, I visited her apartment to provide tech support, but I didn't feel the burden of tech support as being heavy – until she obtained a Google Chromebook.

What Your Library Needs to Know About Mobilegeddon

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This post originally appeared on TechSoup's blog. Google's algorithm change to favor mobile sites shouldn't scare you, but it should get you thinking about your library's mobile strategy. Here are a few tips to help you weather "Mobilegeddon."

volcano erupting in Guatemala

When journalists add the suffix "-geddon" to an event or trend, you can usually be assured that it's not nearly as disastrous as it sounds. This is more or less the case with the so-called "Mobilegeddon," Google's April 21 change that gives a boost to mobile-friendly sites in mobile search results.

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