Innovation

Washington state’s first library kiosk opens

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The kiosk at the community center is also watched over by the center’s cameras.

Spokane Mayor David Condon spoke briefly before a ribbon cutting ceremony marked the kiosk as open for business. He said the kiosk is an example of how the city is making investments in the community.

“The modern-day bookmobile is right behind you,” he said. “It truly is access to knowledge, which is the fabric of our community. This will break down barriers in the West Central community.”

Thefirst item checked out of the kiosk was a Captain Underpants book. It didn’t take long for kids at the center to swarm the machine, which holds books for adults and kids as well as DVDs.

Amanda Estep checked out a DVD and a few books for her children. She visits the community center often and knew the kiosk was coming. She previously went to either the Shadle or downtown libraries, but they weren’t convenient.

“I live right down the road,” she said. “This is so much better. I’m so thrilled.”

She likes that she can also return books there and that she can check out books for herself, too. The machine includes popular items like Harry Potter and James Patterson books. “That is so cool,” she said.

Numerica Credit Union contributed $50,000 for the project and is the title sponsor. Funding also came from the Avista Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, Pitney Bowes, Spokane Federal Credit Union, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Band Construction. Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm also contributed money.

“It’s going to be a wonderful thing for the community,” said Lynn Ciani, Numerica’s executive vice president general counsel. “These books will enhance the lives of those who read them.”

3D Printer at UM Library lets students get creative

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Ole Miss (MI) students can now print 3D objects up to the size of a basketball with a special printer at the J.D. Williams Library on campus. With a 3D scanner on the way, the plan is to eventually open use of the printer and scanner to the public. 

Sean O’Hara, program coordinator at the library, is in charge of testing the new technology and getting it ready for use. 

“Our point is for people to come in with an idea and leave with something in their hands,” O’Hara said. “You mess with technology in an experimental setting, and you figure out how to take the next step.”

The scanner comes on an iPad that students will be able to check out, so they can scan objects outside of the library. But as of now, all scanning must be done through the same Wi-Fi the printer is connected to.

The printer uses a material called polylactic acid, or PLA, to create the 3D objects. It is a plant-based, biodegradable thermoplastic.

The objects of their reflection

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by Anna Fisher-Pinkert, courtesy of The Harvard Gazette

It’s hard to imagine even the most jaded student entering the Houghton Library (MA) without a sense of awe. Within these walls, you can read a letter signed personally by Vladimir Lenin, unfold a book of spells from Indonesia, and marvel at Emily Dickinson’s writing desk and chair.

As Houghton celebrates its 75th anniversary, scholars take a look back at how some of the library’s rare holdings have inspired their research.

A Year in Library Memes (And Why We Need More)

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First: What is a Meme?

The term “meme” rose to prominence in the 1990s, accompanying the rise of the internet and personal computer. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “meme” is a noun that means an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.

It can also mean an amusing or interesting item such as a captioned picture or video that is spread widely on the internet. “Memes are often harmless images with funny text over it,” says to Michael Levenson, a Boston Globe reporter.

Richard Dawkins, a British scientist, first used the term “meme” in 1976 book The Selfish Gene to mean “a unit of cultural transmission”. When he created the word, he sought a monosyllable that sounded a bit like “gene”. “Mim” was a root meaning mime or mimic, and “-eme” a distinctive unit of language or structure.

Library leans on inmates for chair repair

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Nearly 50 children’s chairs at the Benicia Public Library (CA) were given new life thanks to furniture repairmen with some time on their hands.

For some, lots of time.  “After 25 years, they were looking a little beat up and not very appealing,” said David Dodd, Benicia’s Director of Library and Culture Services.  While “exploring a number of options,” replacing the chairs or having them professionally renovated wasn’t one.  “All very expensive,” Dodd said.

Thanks to a friend of a friend of a friend — OK, it was interior designer Kristine Passalacqua who knew someone formerly associated with San Quentin — who mentioned that the high security prison had a facility where government and school furniture is reupholstered and refinished for free.

Enhancing Instruction and Reach with Flipped Learning

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Flipped learning is a phenomenon that has swept through the halls of academia and kindergarten through twelfth grade schools. When done well, it frees up classroom time for deeper exploration and application of instruction that is delivered in advance, often using current technology tools. Flipped learning enables instructors, particularly those with limited time in class, the opportunity to assess whether a student understands a concept or has mastered a skill, and to focus on areas of greatest need for extra support.

As Trends Change, Libraries Deliver Services in Many Different Ways

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Michelle Tilley likes old-fashioned books, the ones printed on paper.

She likes the feel in her hand as she turns the page, the weight of the book in her lap.  But when she's going on vacation, Tilley downloads e-books from the library. Instead of weighing down a suitcase, "I take all those books on my tiny little Kindle."

Tilley does what many library lovers do these days. She switches back and forth between paper books and books delivered electronically.   Last year, Lincoln library patrons borrowed more than 3 million items, from books off the shelves to music and movies from the Hoopla streaming service.

And for the past decade the pattern of library use has been slowly changing.

The number of electronic delivered e-books, movies, TV shows, audio books, and music loaned to Lincoln (NE) library users has exploded, from 7,008 in fiscal year 2006-07 — the year electronic downloading became available — to 244,874 last fiscal year.  Print material remains the heart of the library's loan service, though its use is dropping. The number of print items loaned has dropped gradually from nearly 2.5 million in fiscal year 2008-09 to a little more than 2 million last fiscal year.

Libraries Cultivate Community Resilience

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At one time or another, most communities face the challenge of reestablishing stability after periods of disruption—whether human-created, natural, or some combination thereof. As civic anchors, libraries have played a critical role in meeting that challenge. The images of libraries in Ferguson and Baltimore as neighborhood beacons during the aftermath of the deaths of two young black men at the hands of police are particularly poignant. Yet those images belie the groundwork that was laid long in advance by committed librarians who listened, engaged, and prepared to respond to the needs of the communities they serve.

Leveling the Field: Libraries and Income Inequality

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Confronting inequality is integral to the history of libraries and remains at the heart of library service today. The same materials, programs and services are available to anyone who walks through the library’s doors, no matter the size (or existence) of their wallet. Yet librarians’ commitment to equity requires greater action, particularly during a sustained period of rising income inequality as we are experiencing in the United States. Across the country, in libraries of all types, librarians are taking that extra step.

Data Everywhere

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The exponential growth of data in our hyper-connected world raises a number of questions, starting with: what do we do with all of it? In response, librarians innovate and collaborate to serve their communities as they endeavor to locate, gather, analyze, and make meaning of information. As champions of both information access and privacy, librarians also build the capacities of communities to understand privacy implications and take measures to protect their own privacy as well as those of subjects whose data they gather.

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