December 2018 Library Tech Newsbytes

A hand pulling a page out of a book

Here's what's new in library tech this month! Library tech newsbytes is a monthly collection of fun news items from pretty much anywhere we find them. This month we cover the results of the midterm elections for library measures, offer you some free posters, highlight awesome children's libraries including Harry Potter–themed ones, provide info on what to do about patrons wanting to 3D print a working gun, showcase a fun Library of Things offer by New York Public Library, the Ilovelibraries facts about why libraries are more relevant than ever, and Silicon Valley's warnings about kids and screen time. We hope you enjoy our holiday batch of newsbytes this time around!

Mixed Success, but No Library Wave in the Midterms 2018

In our October TechSoup for Libraries newsletter, we talked a good deal about the 2018 elections and How to Get Voters to Support Your Library. Library Journal reported that strong voter turnout in the 2018 U.S. midterm election did not strongly drive support for libraries at the voting booth. The results of 79 elections tracked by Library Journal and national nonprofit political action committee EveryLibrary did not reflect the hoped-for trend that 2017's win rate seemed to predict. It doesn't seem that bad though: 72 percent passed their library measures, 20 percent failed. At press time, 6 percent were still too close to call. These results are more in line with the averages of the past decade than last year's successes, as EveryLibrary executive director John Chrastka notes. However, the midterms also saw several encouraging and unexpected large wins in New Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as surges in Ohio and upstate New York.

Free Media Literacy Week Posters

Do you want your free holiday gift? The National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) sponsored Media Literacy Week in early November as it does every year. The event showcases the work of amazing media literacy educators and organizations around the country. The mission of Media Literacy Week is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education today. Membership in NAMLE is free. The free Media Literacy Week posters designed by Daniel Rhone are great for any time of year. Download them here. Thanks to NAMLE and Daniel Rhone, your public library is welcome to download, print, and post them.

13 Awesome Children's Libraries Around the U.S. That Will Make You Want to Be a Kid Again

Full disclosure: I don't much care for the currently overused term awesome. But Kelly Jensen's recent list on Book Riot of astonishing children's library spaces from all over the country may well be worthy of the term. The photos of these libraries are all from Instagram and well worth a look. It's impossible to pick a favorite, but I'd love for you to see the over-the-top displays at Cerritos Public Library.

While we're on the topic of magical library spaces, we mentioned recently on TechSoup4Libs Twitter about 16 Libraries That Look Like Hogwarts in Real Life that will make your inner holiday Hermione tingle.

New York Public Library Is Now Lending Out Ties and Other Accessories for Job Interviews

We mentioned this month in our Library Technology 2018 Year in Review, the Library of Things trend. We forgot to mention the New York Public Library's Grow Up work accessories collection, located at the Riverside Library on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It allows library card holders to borrow ties, briefcases, and handbags for three-week periods. The new program was created as part of the NYPL's Innovation Project, which provides grant funding for new proposals by library staff for things like creating library greenhouses or implementing a job search program for the unemployed.

Chicago Libraries with 3D Printers Are Bracing for the Question: Can I Print Out a Gun?

What if one of your young holiday patrons has employed their pursuit of knowledge to find crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson's directions for 3D printing a functioning gun? Now what? According to the Chicago Tribune, the librarians at Chicago Public Library are pondering just that.

Fortunately, ALA has drafted a resource for libraries to develop policies and best practices regarding the use of their 3D printers. ALA's draft policy states that a possible settlement agreement on the Defense Distributed case "is not binding on libraries and does not create a right to use those plans to create guns on library 3D printers in violation of library policy or in violation of the applicable law regulating the manufacture or distribution of guns in the United States, such as the law that makes it illegal to create or assist in the creation of a gun that is undetectable by X-ray machines or metal detectors."

Ilovelibraries' 30 Facts About America's Libraries

You gotta love ilovelibraries.org's 30 reasons why libraries are more relevant than ever. Here's just a sample of some of their stats:

  • There were 1.35 billion in-person visits to libraries in 2016.
  • 68 percent of libraries assist people in getting job opportunities.
  • 391 million free e-books are available at America's libraries.
  • Nearly 90 percent of U.S. libraries offer basic digital literacy training, including how to use your smartphone.

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley

I haven't a clue what we can do with this information, but information is power, right? The New York Times reports that Silicon Valley technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don't want their own children anywhere near them.

Chris Anderson, a former editor of Wired and now the chief executive of a robotics and drone company says: "On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it's closer to crack cocaine." He is also the founder of GeekDad.com.

A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunted development seem high. The debate in Silicon Valley now is about how much exposure to phones is OK.

Do you have a fun library tech newsbyte? Let's talk about it in the comments section below.