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18 September 2015 - 10:52am | by Jim Lynch

This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. We wanted to share it with the library community as so many of you are designing flyers, websites, and promotional images for programs and events. 

Whether you're creating a postcard, flyer, presentation, or fundraising email, a little design know-how goes a long way.

Don't have a graphic designer in-house? No problem. With the recent launch of discounted Adobe Creative Cloud memberships on TechSoup, we have been doing some great webinars and blog posts on graphic design basics and how to use Adobe tools.

Basic Know-How: Graphic Design for Non-Designers

Design Seeds screenshot showing palettes and matching images

Four Things Non-Designers Should Know About Graphic Design by our Laura Kindsvater is a very plain language intro if you're just getting started, including

  • The basics of layout so that the important stuff gets noticed.
  • Figuring out which colors to choose.
  • Where to find good images.
  • Not overloading with too many fonts.
  • Finding handy free tools and design templates.

8 September 2015 - 12:54pm | by Jim Lynch

Little girl playing with banana circuit

What does digital inclusion mean for libraries? It's the idea that all libraries, even budget-constrained ones, can provide access to current information and communication technologies for their patrons. This could include computers, apps, and current software, plus more exotic things like 3D printers, robotics, toys, programming, and trainings.

Nice idea, but how might small, rural, and other libraries without big budgets get innovative technology and training? Meet the New Mexico Makerstate Initiative.

18 May 2015 - 10:45am | by Jim Lynch

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.

13 March 2015 - 3:39pm | by Jim Lynch

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.

9 February 2015 - 12:40pm | by Jim Lynch

This post was originally published on the TechSoup blog. Librarians are naturally sensitive to copyright issues, but sometimes image permissions can be downright confusing. Here are some resources to help you determine which images are okay to use for your library's outreach efforts and marketing materials. 

cat looking at a cat picture on a computer monitor

With so many cute cat photos on the Internet, it's tempting to just grab one and use it on your website. But what are the rules and where can you get good public domain or Creative Commons images to spice up your website?

With the rise of visual social media (like Pinterest and Instagram), a clear trend in digital communications is more images and fewer words — even if you are communicating through your website or an email newsletter.

9 February 2015 - 12:24pm | by Jim Lynch

This post was originally published on the TechSoup blog. If you use marketing collateral, such as a newsletter, a Facebook page, or fliers for your outreach, you need good images to go along with it. But you also need to make sure that these images are okay to use. So where do you begin? We made a list of 10 free image sources to help you get started in your search. 

photo of red poppies on laptop screen

There are more places than ever to get free images that are entirely OK for you to use for your communications. Here are 10 sources for images you can freely use on your website or other communications channels. The following list is no particular order.

20 January 2015 - 12:00pm | by Jim Lynch

Dan Cohen

I have to admit that it is kind of hard to describe what the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) does. Fortunately, I had a chance to hear directly from the founding executive director, Dan Cohen, on what DPLA is doing when he spoke last week at the San Francisco Public Library.

8 January 2015 - 5:26pm | by Jim Lynch

This sounds like the type of open inquiry you'd find on the question and answer website, Quora, but I can't believe the amount of different things libraries now lend. I did a short inventory, and perhaps the strangest things I've heard about recently are the quad-copter drones for loan to students at the University of South Florida Library.

15 December 2014 - 10:05am | by Jim Lynch

We just found out that TechSoup donor partner Mobile Beacon was chosen by the New York Public Library (NYPL) to provide 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspot devices as part of the library's mobile hotspot lending program.

Last summer we covered the big library tech news that mobile hotspot lending is finally getting national press. Libraries across the country have been lending out free Internet access for home use for some time now, but the trend got national attention when the New York and Chicago Public Libraries launched large-scale hotspot lending.

NYPL's program was so successful that the library has massively expanded the program.

5 November 2014 - 10:57am | by Jim Lynch

The Digital DivideFor the last 17 years, the E-rate program has helped provide schools and libraries across the U.S. with subsidized Internet service.

With almost one-third of Americans still not connected to the Internet, there has been consistent demand for increased E-rate funding. For example, TechSoup's donor partner, Mobile Beacon, has an infographic on its homepage showing that nearly 50 percent of U.S. libraries still lack sufficient Internet access to meet their patrons' needs.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responded this July with an E-rate modernization plan to increase funding to libraries and schools for high-capacity Wi-Fi and broadband.

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