Since its grand opening in February 2014, the Orange County Library System’s (OCLS) Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation, and Creativity has offered patrons access to high-tech tools ranging from 3-D printers to flight simulators. In the past year and a half, the center, located in the library’s central branch in Orlando, FL, has become a locus of creativity within the community, helping patrons connect and collaborate with others who share their interests. Ormilla Vengersammy, Melrose Center manager and Technology and Education Department Head for OCLS, described the center’s growing video game design program as one such example.
OverDrive is working on a project that could ultimately enable the company to convert PDFs and other file formats into the industry-standard EPUB format for ebooks, without significant loss of formatting and functionality, CEO Steve Potash said during his “Crystal Ball” presentation, which concluded the company’s biennial Digipalooza user group conference in Cleveland, OH earlier this month.
In partnership with local nonprofit arts and media organization Brooklyn Information & Culture (BRIC), the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) in July opened a state-of-the art, three-camera television studio in its Coney Island branch. Outfitted with equipment including HD cameras, a TriCaster switcher, a green screen, and professional lighting and audio gear, all provided by BRIC, the studio will serve as a set location for BRIC’s community access television network, as well as a classroom for regularly scheduled, hands-on studio production courses.
The Purposeful Gaming and BHL project recently launched its first two browser-based video games, Smorball and Beanstalk. Both are designed to offer players a fun online diversion while helping the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) enable full-text searching of digitized materials. Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which was awarded in December 2013, the project is exploring how games might be used to entice people to participate in crowdsourcing efforts at libraries and museums.
Gerontologist Debbie Dodds developed a tablet-based workshop program with the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, CA, for people with early-stage memory loss. She and library representatives will present on the pilot at LJ’s all-day virtual event The Digital Shift this October 14. In the run-up to the conference, LJ caught up with Dodd to learn more.
After years of expressing concern about the potential impact that library lending might have on consumer sales, major publishers have good cause to take another look at the library market for ebooks, according to executives from library ebook distributors OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor. With consumer sales growth slowing, bolstering institutional sales will likely become more of a priority for major publishers. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash noted that publishers, like all for-profit companies, are always looking for growth, and “there’s still a lot a growth in institutions, and there [are] significant opportunities for growth in education…. If retail is flattening, you have to experiment.”
The Colorado State Library (CSL) is continuing to build out its Library Creation & Learning Centers website, a free online resource where libraries throughout the state and beyond can access interactive technology and customer service training modules for staff, Maker space programming ideas, curated links to digital creation software, and more. While the site currently focuses primarily on tech-related topics, there are plans to expand it to offer resources and training materials for a range of subjects.
On July 15 President Barack Obama announced the launch of the “ConnectHome” broadband initiative, which will provide high speed home Internet access to nearly 200,000 children in more than 275,000 low-income households. ConnectHome is the next step in Obama’s Connecting America initiative. In January the president announced planned steps to help ensure that reliable, affordable broadband would be more widely available, including the promotion of community-based broadband and a calling for State and local governments to roll back restrictive regulations. And the ConnectED initiative, which Obama announced in April, aims to connect 99 percent of American students to high-speed broadband in their classrooms by 2018.
Early results from two Knight News Challenge award-funded pilot programs indicate that mobile hotspot lending could help bridge the digital divide in city neighborhoods where broadband adoption is low, and home Internet subscriptions are considered a luxury. A capacity crowd was on hand to hear Luke Swarthout, director of adult education services for the New York Public Library (NYPL) and Michelle Frisque, chief of technology content and innovation for Chicago Public Library (CPL) discuss NYPL’s “Check Out the Internet” and CPL’s “Internet to Go” services during their “A Tale of Two Cities: NYPL and CPL Wi-Fi Lending Projects” presentation.
Librarians should not be afraid to discuss both positive and negative implications of collecting and analyzing patron data, library technology consultant Carson Block said during the Library and Information Technology Association’s (LITA) Top Tech Trends panel during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference on June 28. “We’ve limited ourselves by saying, ‘We don’t want to touch [the topic of data collection] because we might be infringing on patron confidentiality and privacy,’” he said. “I think that’s too simplistic of a view. I think, in fact, we have to embrace looking at data collection to serve our patrons…and protecting confidentiality and privacy. I think we’re the only organization[s] that really care about actually protecting that pile of data.”