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.”
Even at large libraries that have staff dedicated to digitization projects, the additional effort needed to enable researchers to extract data from these collections—such as transcribing OCR-resistant text, or adding item-level tags to large collections of images—would be an untenable chore for a library to take on alone. So, in the past half decade, libraries have taken cues from long-running projects, using crowdsourcing as a way not only to outsource work that would be impossible for staff to attempt but also to engage volunteers.
While the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) is largely concerned with policy on the legislative level, an OITP-sponsored program at ALA’s 2015 annual conference, Hacking the Culture of Learning in the Library, focused on what libraries themselves need to know to function as outside-the-school-walls learning zones. Moderator Christopher Harris, school library system director at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and ALA OITP Fellow for Program on Youth and Technology Policy, began the interactive session by noting that public, school, and academic libraries have a great opportunity to frame a common theme to work around—Libraries Are Education—and set about exploring some of the issues at stake.
Every American Library Association (ALA) conference produces a bumper crop of news from the companies that serve libraryland, as each tends to time its biggest debuts to the event, and this year was no exception. Here’s an assortment of what we learned on the exhibit floor. Did we miss your news? Please add it in the comments!