Many libraries work with local cultural institutions to provide patrons with free or reduced-cost access. These print passes can be checked out in-house by patrons just like other resources, complete with circulation limits, due dates, and fines. Some software companies are simplifying pass management with web-based tools to help patrons discover and check out museum passes and event tickets or make reservations.
Beginning with the publication of Freedom’s Journal by Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm in 1827, U.S. newspapers and periodicals written and distributed by African American journalists and publishers in the 19th and 20th centuries have played a vital role in giving voice to black communities, while chronicling and ultimately preserving history from the perspective of those communities. This product spotlight showcases subscription databases with extensive historic black newspaper collections, as well as a selection of free resources made available by the Library of Congress (LC), the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and other institutions.
It isn’t surprising that 3-D printers are often mentioned in the same breath as library Maker spaces. “Additive manufacturing” technology is about 30 years old, but as it becomes more refined, as well as more affordable, its growing importance to engineering and prototyping appears to be inevitable, as well as its use in everything from medicine to haute cuisine. Meanwhile, during the past few years, dozens of small desktop units have become available, most priced out of reach for casual users but within the means of many libraries interested in offering their communities access to new technologies.
Automated materials handling (AMH) refers to any automation that reduces or eliminates the need for staff or patrons to check in, check out, or sort material, or to move bins containing library materials. Those jobs are handled by checkin machines, sorters, conveyors, singulators, stackers, and unstackers, speeding up processes throughout busy branches and central libraries.
Financial literacy is one of the most important skills a person can develop, and yet it is often one of the least-emphasized subjects in K–12 schools or in higher education settings. Library programs can help fill this need. This spotlight focuses on online tools, both free and subscription-based, that are available for guiding patrons toward solid financial decision-making.
Library security systems are described as “non-glamourous work-horses” on Bibliotheca’s website. It’s true that the core function—to deter theft and prevent materials that haven’t been properly checked out from accidentally walking out of the library—hasn’t changed much since 3M launched its Tattle Tape electromagnetic (EM) security system in the 1970s. However, many of the latest systems feature new functionality enhanced by RFID tags, along with sleek, unobtrusive design that gives public entryways a modern appearance.
Digital archives contain a wealth of interesting images and documents that have been meticulously described by librarians, but databases are not always ideal for browsing. Tools such as time line and mapping software now enable libraries to present digital collections in new ways, facilitating serendipitous exploration for researchers.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) systems offer libraries many ways to enhance productivity, ranging from self-check solutions to automated materials handling systems. RFID tags, which include a tiny chip for processing and storing information and an antenna for communicating with the readers in self-check stations, security gates, staff workstations, and other equipment, are a core component of any RFID system.
The humble book drop is often one of the more heavily used pieces of equipment in the library, but these sturdy repositories are easy to take for granted unless they aren’t doing the job right. This month’s product spotlight takes a look at devices available from three of the top book return manufacturers in North America.
Whether you need a flatbed scanner integrated with a payment system for patron use, or one that will protect rare oversize maps while creating a digital record, there’s a scanner for your library. Today’s book scanners are fast (many can scan a page in under two seconds) and provide optical resolution of up to 800 dots per inch (dpi) on sheets reaching a massive 35″ x 25″ in size. With such a wealth of options, your only problem may be deciding which scanner to choose. LJ has highlighted some of the newest offerings from a number of providers.