September 2012, Volume 4, Issue 8
Check Your Calendars!!
Library Card Sign-Up Month
Indian Ed Summit
Festival of Books
Banned Books Week
Sept. 30 – Oct. 6
SDLA Annual Conference
Teen Read Week
National Friends of Libraries Week
Featured e-Resources of the Month
Tips for getting better online search results
Internet usage time tracking: Is there an easier way?
By James R. Fry, BIT Network Technologies, SDBI Technology Planning Manager
Since the beginning of the South Dakota Broadband Initiative (SDBI), the Technology Planning and Computer Ownership (TPCO) team of the SDBI has enjoyed the opportunity to assist several libraries across the state in "rolling their technical boulders." In short, the TPCO team is available to help libraries get the most out of their internal networks, computers and Internet access for an enhanced end user online experience. Some of the improvements that have been made include: expanding wireless coverage for library and patron owned devices, replacing old computers with new ones, increasing network security for business networks, creating public access networks and resolving numerous performance issues. Often times, when we left, the library staff and patrons didn't realize it was ever a problem, and didn’t know it could work that well!
Our program recently awarded grant funding to five South Dakota public libraries to help subsidize the cost of technology improvement projects. No library is too small or too large for this project. They all have special circumstances, and our findings have been that they always welcome free, unbiased assistance with their current technology and in planning for the future. The grant funding opportunities have also become quite popular as well. We've awarded funds to assist with over $22,000 worth of projects, and we've only scratched the surface.
In working with the helpful crew at the State Library and the public libraries in our state, we have been made aware that one challenging area for libraries is Internet usage time tracking. The challenge falls both on the local libraries and the State. Local libraries need to accurately account for, record, and report Internet usage time to the State, and the State needs to compile all of this data into a uniform report for submission to their funding sources. The methods used range from a variety of specialized software suites installed on the computers down to paper sign-in sheets. And thus far, none of the solutions have been optimal.
Software removes the requirement of staff involvement for daily tracking, but these often expensive software packages take funds away from providing resources for patrons, and do not work on personal devices brought in by library patrons. A lack of consistent software for all libraries also makes compiling the disparate datasets challenging for the State entities.
The use of paper sign-in sheets continues to be in the majority of the libraries. This approach brings its own challenges. First, getting all patrons bringing their own personal device into the library to sign-in when they use the Internet is unlikely. Tracking and storing all of the sign-in sheets, then re-entering that data accurately into spreadsheets that eventually become periodic reports takes staff and resources away from providing services to patrons.
Given these requirements, the most efficient and optimal solution will be an automated time tracking system that tracks all users of the library Internet connection 24/7 while storing the data in a consistent format. The most common denominator, and best spot to place a tracking system, is at the Network Gateway. I'll spare you the technical jargon in saying this "gateway," is the point where your local network connects to the public Internet. For many of you, this might be a cable or DSL modem, or some other device at the edge of your network. These devices see all users and all devices that use the Internet at your library, either library or patron-owned, and offer the potential for a highly efficient, hands-off approach to usage tracking. By moving the "Internet usage meter" to the main access line or "gateway" instead of the computer we can efficiently and accurately account for this number.
A good analogy for this system would be the water lines in your home. Your local utilities company has a meter located in-line with your main water connection going out of your house. This meter measures water usage for the entire home to accurately bill the household. This hands-off approach efficiently does the job without requiring trackers on each faucet and appliance in the house.
The technology market offers devices that are able to report on different parameters of Internet usage, including time of usage. When the in-line device at the gateway has Internet traffic go through it, it creates usage logs. These logs provide the details to accurately determine the amount of Internet usage time over a day, a week, a month, etc. In addition, the logs can be searched, helping you to determine how much Internet use was done via library-owned systems vs. patron-owned or to see the types of activities library patrons are engaging in, such as job searching and research.
Some of these gateway devices are able to store these usage logs themselves. However, in most cases a second type of storage device will be needed for log storage. It will most likely come as no surprise, that all solutions boil down to some kind of cost, and this one is no exception. Through the SDBI we have been offered deep discount pricing on these solutions that all of South Dakota's libraries are privy to. In full disclosure, the majority of the cost lies in the device to store the log data. However, I would also like to point out that a single log storage device can be configured for multiple libraries allowing cost sharing.
The information contained in this article is really just the tip of the iceberg, therefore, the SDBI Technology Planning Team would invite and encourage further questions and opportunities to explain the details of this solution. It has great potential to ease the burden of this task as well as streamline its processes, but it does take discussion and planning. Feel free to contact us by email at email or by phone at 605-773-4165. Also, I would encourage everyone to check our website at broadband.sd.gov for a wealth of information on our program.
If you have general questions you can always contact the State Library. Daria Bossman would be happy to field your questions. Keep in mind five of the recent 15 grants awarded through the South Dakota Broadband Initiative were given to SD public libraries. Each library director we spoke to felt it was worth their time to complete the assessment and the report given to them was valuable to their city leadership for general technology planning. You can call the State Library at 1-800-423-6665 or email Daria at email
Check out unz.org for answers to obscure reference questions
Unz.org is a free website for periodicals, books, and videos. It is a good supplement for article research because it carries current titles, as well as some going back to the 19th century. Many of the titles are not what one would find in ProQuest or EBSCO.
In addition to periodicals, the site has a selection of books and videos which also cover a wide range of years. Just click on the headings at the top of the page to see a listing of titles under each content area, or you can also search by time period or author.
Recently, staff at SDSL used this website to find an obscure reference to a gathering in the Black Hills in 1980. Keep checking back as more titles are added.
Don't forget to call us 800-423-6665 or email us email for research help.
Librarian's Guide to Passive Programming: a book review
by Jane Healy, Electronic Resources Coordinator, East River
Librarian's Guide to Passive Programming, Emily T. Wichman, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012. 152 pgs.
"Passive programming? I thought today's library was all about action!" you say. It is, and passive programming is about keeping the action going. Author Emily Wichman defines it as programs that take place over a period of time, allow patrons to participate any time, require minimum staff involvement, have low cost, can cover any topic and can be adapted for various age groups. Passive programming supplements traditional programming, rather than replacing it.
The book's 32 program plans come from librarians who have succeeded with them. Wichman suggests how to generate other ideas and gives promotion, evaluation and organization advice.
Each plan describes the program and gives step-by-step execution, evaluation, supply list, reproducible promotion piece and library collection tie-ins. Where appropriate, photos show displays or resulting products.
Program titles include "The Literary Gnome," "Crazy Captions," "Get a Clue," "Find the Pickle!," "Chain Calendars" and "Meet the Milfords." Chapter six describes three different types of exchanges for patrons to participate in—Craft Supply Swap, Puzzle Exchange and Winter Holiday Card Exchange. Chapter seven offers programs conducted with community partners. Most are set up as stations in your library, but some could be run online.
The ideas in this book can lead to greater patron interest and participation without investing a lot of library staff and materials. Though the programs have been held at public libraries, they could be adapted for other library types.
This and other books about library programming are available from the State Library website.
What to Do with Weeded Materials
You've weeded, and your shelves look great. Now, what do you do? You can add them to your own library materials sale, and you can use these businesses' services to help you unload those unwanted materials:
- B-Logistics: blogistics.com
- Better World Books: betterworldbooks.com
- Books Beyond Borders: booksbeyondborders.com
- Book Prospector: bookprospector.com
- We Buy Books: webuybooks.net
Listserv highlights re: Slippery metal shelving
Any tips on dealing with slippery metal shelving?
- I had the same issue, and I used the non-skid or non-slip book ends. However, the non-skid are a little more expensive.
- I have used the little strips that come in a box from Demco or one of those companies. You can cut them any length that you like. I use double strips in a wide shelf or just one in a smaller one. They are kind of a foam on the one side with a sticky tape on the other.
- We applied a length of tape that was sticky on one side and rough/bumpy on the other. It was several years ago, but I’m sure we got it from either Highsmith or Demco. It is about one inch wide. We used two parallel strips that run the width/long way on the shelf. It helps with the slipping and depending on the size of the books, eliminates the need for bookends in many places.
- At the grocery store, they have black mat material that prevents things from slipping. It is a rubbery mesh fabric.
- Both Demco and Highsmith have non-slip self-adhesive tape that we use on our shelves. Not perfect, but it does help.