2 July 2019 - 2:59am | by WebJunction

Community members participating in a discussion

Editor's Note: It is vital that public libraries understand the needs and interests of their communities and patrons to stay relevant in the 21st century. That's easy to say, but hard to do. Online and paper surveys are a common tool for this, but they have limitations. The main limitation of the survey approach is that it generally avoids direct interaction between a library and its community members or member-to-member interactions.

WebJunction has addressed this by compiling an astonishingly rich resource describing other useful techniques for finding out what your local community wants called a Basket of Discovery Tools. We like it so much that we reprint it here with permission from WebJunction to ensure that this great resource gets the widest possible attention.

28 June 2019 - 5:41am | by Dr. Steve Albrecht

Library patrons talking at a table

So a patron has — for whatever reason, and there can be many — a significant body odor, dental odor, or other hygiene problem. This is not a patron who rode his or her bike to your library and didn't towel off properly. This is a person who we can all smell from several feet away. It could be a combination of body odor, mouth odor, a personal toiletry problem, or unclean clothes (wearing the same unwashed garments day after day). Either way, this a library workplace issue, which can really start to bother the staff who have to serve or work near this person. It demands a "patron coaching" conversation.

3 June 2019 - 6:33am | by Jim Lynch

A hand pulling a page out of a book

What's new in library tech! Welcome to our monthly collection of fun and hopefully useful news items from our great twitter feed and wherever else we find them.

This month we offer nothing less than the state of America's libraries in 2019 and the hot debate in Colorado on whether libraries should get into the local news business. On a more practical level, check out the new free U.K. cybersecurity tool to discover your vulnerabilities, how Canadians are reinventing tool lending libraries, some DIY makerspace game ideas for teens, and how the Contra Costa and Santa Barbara libraries in California have joined the movement to eliminate overdue fines.

28 May 2019 - 6:31am | by Elizabeth Boggs

Teens learning HTML and CSS in a library computer lab

Teens today keep hearing about coding, coding, coding — and libraries are responding! Many teens in school and public libraries seem to have ample exposure to Scratch coding, a simple coding structure that uses drag-and-drop coding blocks.

What if teens want to go further, though? What if they want to use the coding skills for which they have to type out actual coding languages instead of dragging and dropping? Libraries can do that too!

Over the course of a school year, teens at the Spring Branch-Memorial Library in Harris County Public Library used HTML and CSS coding to create web pages. From a blank Notepad page, these teens crafted web pages with content and design aspects they chose.

24 May 2019 - 7:06am | by Urban Libraries Council

A scene from the movie The Public

Emilio Estevez directed, wrote and stars in the new movie The Public, which premiered on April 5, 2019. This film tells the story of a group of homeless patrons who take refuge at their local library during an extreme cold front. With local emergency shelters at full capacity, these patrons stage a nonviolent sit-in at the library in order to stay within the building after closing time — leading to tense negotiations with local police and sensational coverage by local media, with the library's staff caught in the middle.

Urban Libraries Council (ULC) reached out to Emilio Estevez to learn more about his inspiration and research for the film, and how the film can open minds to the roles of 21st-century libraries and serious issues facing today's communities.

30 April 2019 - 6:42am | by Jim Lynch

A hand pulling a page out of a book

What's new in library tech! Welcome to our monthly collection of fun news items from our great Twitter feed and wherever else we find them.

This month we offer news about the new Emilio Estevez movie The Public, the new #Booklover Community, how the Tel Aviv Library became a tech incubator, the New York University City Health Dashboard to find out how your community is doing, the ultimate glossary of social media words every librarian should know, and the latest puzzling Pew Research on why we get our news from social media. We hope you enjoy our curious batch of Newsbytes this time around!

26 April 2019 - 6:27am | by Jared Newman

Library patron using an ipad

The following is an excerpt from Advisorator, a biweekly personal tech advice newsletter for libraries from journalist Jared Newman.

24 April 2019 - 7:13am | by Ted Han and Amanda Hickman

Photographing a book page with a phone for digital transcription

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared in Source, an OpenNews project designed to amplify the impact of journalism by connecting a network of developers, designers, journalists, and editors to collaborate on open technologies.It was originally written for journalists, but we thought the piece so unique and useful to libraries that we're reposting a somewhat shortened version. Find the original here.

Do you need to pay a lot of money to get reliable OCR results? Is Google Cloud Vision actually better than Tesseract? Are any cutting-edge neural-network-based OCR engines worth the time investment of getting them set up?

OCR, or optical character recognition, allows us to transform a scan or photograph of a letter or court filing into searchable, sortable text that we can analyze. One of our projects at Factful is to build tools that make state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence accessible to investigative reporters. We have been testing the components that already exist so we can prioritize our own efforts.

We couldn't find a single side-by-side comparison of the most accessible OCR options, so we ran a handful of documents through seven different tools and compared the results. Here they are.

8 April 2019 - 7:10am | by Jim Lynch

A hand pulling a page out of a book

What's new in library tech! Welcome to our monthly collection of fun news items from wherever we find them.

This month we offer an overview of the "libraries as social services organizations" trend across the country, the super green library in Long Island, a heads-up on the Save the Internet Act of 2019, librarian David Lee King's emerging trends for 2019, and some day-in-the-life gems of life as a librarian from BuzzFeed. We hope you enjoy our batch of Newsbytes this time around!

5 April 2019 - 8:25am | by Brianna Austin

Man playing a guitar in a memory café

With memory loss affecting 40 percent of all U.S. adults over the age of 65, an increasing number of individuals and the loved ones who care for them are finding themselves isolated from the life that they once knew. Knowing that this significant population of people wasn't able to utilize many of their traditional services, public libraries started to look for a way to integrate this group. In 2013, they came upon the idea of Memory Cafés  —  a support group with a special twist.