Category Archives: Digital

Apps for your reading life

Here are some reading-related apps for all of us book nerds:

Litsy

litsyLitsy is basically Instagram for those of us who only care about book photos. In addition to the book cover galore, you can use Litsy as a way to track your reading. Search for a title, add to your reading stack, and when you are done, share your rating, short review, blurb or quote. I am especially fond of the “bail” rating. Thank you for giving me the permission to just close the book and say, “that’s enough of that.”

If you like hanging out with other book lovers, give Litsy a try. There is always good old Goodreads too of course. It’s June already. How are you doing on your annual reading challenge?

 

 

Ambient Mixer

I first heard about Ambient Mixer from this Lifehacker post, and it sounds like a fun way to add to the atmosphere while you are reading, and help you get immersed in the scenes. The website provides a wide variety of themed music loops and mixes so you can create the appropriate background soundtrack to match whatever you are reading. Jon Snow could be walking to the sounds of a “mysterious walk in snow storm”  beyond the wall. Transport yourself to Waystone Inn with the fantasy inn/pub/tavern loop. Or, how about some crowd noise for Ned Stark? (Umm, no thanks!)

 

Forest

forestSure, there are books that completely capture my attention, but alas, my phone has too much power over me, and I find myself reaching for it when I am supposed to be reading. There are lots of apps out there that can help you maintain focus. I chose Forest because of its genius use of guilt. And I love the UI.

When you are ready to start a task, set a timer of how long you want to read, and the app will plant a tree for you. The idea is to not navigate away from the Forest app to go check your email, or watch that owl pooping and fleeing the scene video for the nth time.  If you try, a warning will come up, asking you if you are really prepared to live the life of a tree killer. Not just any trees, as you can see, cute, little trees!

 

Libib

Libib is a super quick way to catalogue your personal book collection. The app is very easy to use. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book, and the book will be added to your collection. Because my husband and I are both SFF readers, we often stand at the bookstore wondering if we own a particular volume in the series or not. Libib solves that problem for us, well, as long as we add our purchases religiously.

What apps have you found useful in your reading life? Share your favourites in the comment section.

Virginia from the Port Moody Public Library

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How to RA on Instagram

I will be the first person to admit that I am a sucker for a well photographed “readers’ scene” on Instagram. You know that perfectly orchestrated cozy shot of a book next to a succulent or a mug of tea. It’s all about the aesthetic, and frankly for me, the more minimalist the better. And more often than not, I’ll give the photo a “like” and maybe save the image for future reference. (Can we take a minute to appreciate the save/bookmark feature on IG?!) To be honest, this is how I get most of my personal readers’ advisory done – Instagram. It certainly helps when someone comes in and asks “I’m looking for a book, it’s cover is green with a girl on it”.

So let’s talk about Instagram and how libraries are using it, but more importantly how it’s being used for readers’ advisory. Based off my extensive research aka. scrolling through my IG feed, most libraries use their accounts to promote their programs and services. And why not? It’s a great promotional tool and it’s a way to show your programs in action. But in terms of RA methods, various reading campaigns, such as Book Face Fridays (read this nice little piece in the New York Times), are popular ways to attract readers. Furthermore, campaigns provide consistency with a library’s IG content through its context, aesthetic, and schedule. A great example for consistent content is NYPL where almost every day basically has a scheduled theme.

In January, Surrey Libraries launched the #ReadersUnite campaign where staff members shared their current reads and encouraged patrons to also share their titles under the same hashtag. Another great example is when readers, libraries, publishers, and bookstores gathered together for Freedom to Read Week. Campaigns not only create participation amongst staff and patrons, but also connections to wider communities for larger causes.

 

But, one thing I’ve noticed that isn’t been as frequently used is the Instagram Stories function. While I will admit that I was initially skeptical of Snapchat’s copycat cousin, it has grown on me and frankly I think it’s better in terms of “business”. For one, your audience is already there, no need for a separate account. Two: it can reach a wider audience. Three: it has a hands free option! Four: it’s 15 seconds instead of 10! Currently, a few libraries including Surrey Libraries has been using IG Stories to provide branch tours or to show off some programs. But, why not use this opportunity to have staff members create quick little book chats/slams on their current favourite titles? Or reach out to your patrons and audience by maybe asking for recommendations. For example, if you’re setting up a display, ask them to send in their favourite titles. Let’s remember that RA can work both ways. If your library has a RA service like a book blog or a readers’ advisory request form, show it off using IG stories. Perhaps you have patrons who may not know of these services, so a quick live demo might attract some new users. 

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A sample of a saved IG story pic on the BCLA RAIG account

When you’re finally ready to post a story, use all the fun options such as filters, doodles, text, geotags (great for promoting branches!), stickers, and emojis. Also remember that stories are quick and take minimal time crafting, so no need to worry about creating that “perfect” IG photo. Make it fun and do you!

This week, we’ve been testing out some BCLA RAIG Book Chats on our IG account and hopefully it’s something we can continue. So check them out!

I hope that this post had some helpful tips on using Instagram for readers’ advisory. Try creating an IG story and chat about your latest reads. Share what’s been working for you and your library. 

Stephanie Hong, Casual Library Technician for Surrey Libraries and Vancouver Public Library

Readers’ Advisory for E-books (display ideas)

someecards-ebooksfrom Pinterest

It’s a fact: E-books are becoming more and more popular these days. Many of us dread the idea that one day our traditional physical books might become extinct (I particularly think this will not happen any time soon, not in our lifetime anyway, and most likely not in the couple next generations, hopefully). However, it is clear that e-readers are increasingly making their way into the hands of readers. I am a huge enthusiast of digital reading, I love how practical it is, especially when you want to read big, heavy books. Turning a page is as easy as a quick tap on the screen.

What does this mean for us librarians?

I’ve seen people talking about “readers’ advisory for e-books”. While researching for this article, I came across this post in Library Journal. The author and commenters raise good questions that we need to address when we think about e-books in libraries. I actually agree with the commenter who said RA is not about the medium, but rather the content itself. That means, it doesn’t really matter if the books is in print, audio or digital format, what we recommend to readers is the content, the work. It’s really up to the readers to decide what format is more appropriate for them.

Books are the brand of libraries. All formats of books. All. Formats. With the need of an intermediary technology on which to read the story, e-books present a fascinating area of advisory for librarians. We need to be able to be advisors of technology in addition to content.

Katie Dunneback, in E-Books and Readers’ Advisory (Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50-4, pp 325-329).

I’ve had many patrons come to me at the information desk asking about Library To Go (Overdrive) and our e-books in general. They usually ask me to help them set up the app on their devices and demonstrate how the digital borrowing works. Most of them are older patrons who have been recently introduced to e-readers and tablets. Come to think of it, it makes total sense that we get approached mostly by patrons who are not tech-savvy, as younger people are more used to technology and can figure out their devices on their own. These interactions have never been about book recommendations though, they are focused on “technology advisory” if we can give it such a name. When it comes to e-books, we’re using our instruction hats rather than recommending books.

So, I believe the main issue here is promoting our digital collection to patrons. How can we do it more effectively? I think many people don’t yet realize we have these resources available. Many libraries already promote events where they demonstrate how Overdrive works. That’s great! But I think there’s more we could do to make our digital collections more visible to patrons who are not yet used to technology.

Below are some ideas for e-book displays I found on Pinterest.

Printing book covers and adding QR codes for direct links in the catalogue. How simple and cleaver!

WHS-ebook-displayWHS Library

Helena College Library

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Centralia Public Library

Another great idea I found in the Overdrive marketing resources is adding stickers in physical books indicating those are also available in digital format. Or creating shelf talkers, slips of paper with the information for the e-book.

rsz_medallion600 rsz_shelfcard600Sacramento Public Library

rsz_2e77bacf793561c7d991e4c237d43286Marketing resources from Overdrive

Claire Moore, from Darien Library in Connecticut, has more ideas for promoting digital collections to patrons, especially young ones.

What’s your opinion? What do you think readers’ advisory for e-books means? And how can we do it?

Ana Calabresi is an Auxiliary Librarian at Burnaby Public Library and loves her Kindle!

Multnomah County Library’s “My Librarian”

Similar to the Edmonton Public Library, Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon also has a Readers’ Advisory team! I had the opportunity to learn more about this program during their session “My Librarian: Personalization and The Future of Reader Services” at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference.Laural_2

Not suprisingly, their program is called “My Librarian” and currently consists of 13 enthusiastic library staff members who offer personalized and specific recommendations to patrons. These team members offer staff training, deliver outreach, participate in public events, contribute to social media, and respond to individual RA requests in just 4 hours a week (or roughly 10% of their time, ideally).

This program was created to “facilitate more personal connections for online readers.” Staff members conducted a focus group study, coordinated a series of conversations at ALA conferences, and collaborated with Seattle Public Library to develop the program. A grant for $190,000 helped this project get off the ground.

What staff learned from their research:

  • Libraries are often the last point in the book discovery process. People mention word-of-mouth, bookstores, & online resources before they consider libraries as places to attain reading recommendations. Libraries are competing with Scribd, Goodreads, Powell’s Daily Dose emails, National Public Radio’s Book Your Trip series, the New York Times Book Review, Nancy Pearl,  & Kindle Fire with their 10 second customer response rate to name a few.
  • People respect librarians, but don’t want to take up our time
  • People value asynchronous readers’ advisory (RA), but are hesitant to engage
  • Patrons have been very enthusiastic about the personalized librarian recommendations
  • Email is the preferred way to communicate the service

How did they recruit & train their team?

  • Staff members were encouraged to apply by showcasing their hobbies, talents, and passions
  • They solicited applications from anyone in an information services role–25 applied from over 200 staff
  • Team members were trained in RA skills, Drupal, virtual reference skills including chat and Skype, email tracking software, booktalking, and Novelist over a series of four classes
  • One training activity included visiting Powell’s to find read-alikes in the stacks and book-talk them to one another

What does the exMatthew_2_0perience look like?

  • It’s like match.com for books! Each “My Librarian” has a profile with a photograph showing their personality, a biography, monthly recommendations, blog posts, and a contact link
  • The goal is to respond to each question within 48 hours and to offer 3-5 recommended titles

How was the program marketed?

  • The program was first announced through an email to all 39,000 subscribers
  • Library Journal & The Oregonian featured the program, and it was then picked up by people on Twitter
  • They featured a tile ad on their website
  • They included it on their Google + account and in a Google ad
  • They paid $400 for an ad on Facebook, reaching approximately 30,000 people (as opposed to 560 people reached through an organic Facebook post)
  • The mobile app promoted it
  • Print ads are forthcoming

Thanks to Alison Kastner, Jeremy Graybill, Temlyn Chun, and Laurel Winter for the information.

Let’s Talk About Podcast Advisory – Then Record Ourselves and Share it on the Internet!

This weeks post was written by Samantha Mills, a newly minted librarian from the SLAIS program who currently works for the Vancouver Public Library and the AskAway virtual reference service. She also trained as a teacher, and has a strong interest in library instruction and digital literacies. Her current favourite podcast is Roderick on the Line. Sam also co-hosts the weekly podcast S.S. Librarianship with fellow librarian Allison Sullivan. You can email them or reach them on Twitter to learn more about podcasting, or to be a guest on the show!

As entertainment mediums, genres, and technologies have expanded and changed in recent years, library staff have expanded our Reader’s Advisory skills – into music, audio books, movies, board and video games, and more. Another growing medium, thanks in large part to the growth of easy-to-use home recording and internet sharing technologies, is the podcast. At its core, a podcast is a regular, ongoing or serialized audio program available on the internet, via websites or subscription services. While the term “podcast” is tied to the iPod, it is (despite recent efforts to the contrary) a non-proprietary format, used by individuals, corporations, and everyone in between. There are also a growing number of video podcasts, and some podcasts offer companion material in the form of videos or written articles, but for our purposes, I am focusing here on audio podcasts.

The genres available in podcast form vary just as widely as any other medium. Some of the major podcast access platforms, particularly Stitcher and iTunes, divide podcasts into categories and genres, and also offer their own advisory suggestions based on listener behaviour. There are many sources for podcasts, depending on how the patron wants to listen: for listening through an app and managing subscriptions, there are services like iTunes, Stitcher, or Podkicker, among others – but almost all podcasts also broadcast from their own websites, which generally contain archives.

Production also varies, from the rebroadcast of professional radio programs (NPR and CBC both make most of their programs available in podcast form each week), to recordings of lectures and interviews from institutions like Harvard and the New York Public Library, to programs recorded by amateurs with a computer, a microphone, and something to say. The podcast is also often used as an extension of more traditional media – Entertainment Geekly is one example, hosted by two writers from the Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Whole networks have sprung up around comedy, education, and social & cultural commentary – these are just a few of the most prominent ones:

The hosts of My Brother, My Brother and Me

The hosts of My Brother, My Brother and Me

  • Maximum Fun hosts such diverse programs as bizarre advice show My Brother, My Brother and Me, music dissection program Song Exploder, and medical history romp Sawbones, among others.
  • The Nerdist network has grown from the original Chris Hardwick-hosted Nerdist podcast to include many other programs. Breakout hit The Thrilling Adventure Hour features fully realized drama; more low-key fare includes Mike and Tom Eat Snacks, wherein actors Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh do pretty much what the title indicates.
  • BookRiot is another example of a growing network; the podcast, hosted by the editors of BookRiot.com, is part of a larger books-and-reading community, and has recently been joined by a second show, Dear Book Nerd.
  • How Stuff Works is an online science, technology and education network featuring podcasts like Stuff You Should Know, Stuff of Genius, and Stuff You Missed in History Class.

The interview is a staple format of the podcast – comedian Marc Maron’s WTF was one of the earliest successful programs to take full advantage of the uncensored nature of the medium, engaging in meandering, thoughtful (and often NSFW) conversations with comedians, actors, writers, and musicians.

Many shows also use the podcast format for fiction, providing audio versions of short stories and even performing dramatic pieces with actors, music and sound effects (Welcome to Night Vale, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Podcastle, Machine of Death, and many others).

When providing podcast advisory to patrons, many of the traditional questions about genre apply – are they looking for fiction? Nonfiction? Science? Entertainment/cultural commentary? But there are some other questions more unique to this medium to keep in mind – are they after something that the whole family can listen to together? Many podcasts are uncensored, but most will be marked “explicit” if they deal in mature themes or language. Do they want something with polished, radio-level production values, or are they content with something a little more homegrown?

Roderick on the Line

Roderick on the Line

Additionally, like social media, podcasting can be just as much, if not more, about the personalities and spheres of interest of the hosts as anything else. Content can vary quite a bit, particularly in the more conversational programs. Roderick on the Line is one example, beloved by listeners not for its content as much as for the articulate, thoughtful, and humourous ways that the hosts discuss the wide range of topics their casual conversations touch upon. This is also where the growing number of podcast networks can come into the advisory process – if a patron enjoys one Maximum Fun show, they might like others.

Another aspect of podcast listening to keep in mind is the sometimes fleeting nature of the content – some shows, WTF among them, only provide a certain number of recent episodes for free, and earn money to maintain production by charging a subscription fee for the back catalogue. Many podcasts also contain advertisements, and some raise money through annual pledge drives (Maxiumum Fun, This American Life). It’s a new medium, and its business model is still evolving; this is worth pointing out to patrons as they become invested in this new way of accessing stories and commentary.

SSLibrarianshipLogo

S.S. Librarianship

Finally, even librarians themselves are getting in on the podcast game: library staff and library patrons alike who want to know more about the worlds of books, technology, and librarianship would do well to check out shows like Circulating Ideas, T is for Training, and, of course, S.S. Librarianship (which is co-hosted by your humble author, and includes the weekly Readers Advisory segment “Mind Grapes”).

NOTE: Because of the homegrown nature of the medium, podcasts are growing and changing all the time; this article is far from a complete list. Additionally, the relatively low bar for production and distribution of podcasts means there’s potential here for new programming ideas –  if you’re looking for new learning opportunities for your library, consider teaching your patrons how to podcast!

Throughout the month of May students from UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies will be posting their best Readers’ Advisory tips to the RAIG blog!

The Machine: Using a Raspberry Pi for Readers’ Advisory

Today’s post comes from Matthew Murray, one of the two UBC student representatives with RAIG, a current MLIS candidate at UBC, and someone who’s involved in too many different projects.

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A Raspberry Pi is a tiny, low-cost computer that was created to teach young people about computer science and programming. They’ve been embraced by the maker community and are being used for everything from robots to spinning wheels to cellphones to Minecraft servers.

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A few months ago I saw a post on Tumblr that showed an “Electr-O-Matic Book Fortune Teller” that used an Arduino (a computer similar to a Raspberry Pi) to print book recommendations onto receipt paper when people pushed a button. This seemed like a relatively easy project for myself and some other students to use to get experience working with a Raspberry Pi.

The first step was setting up the Raspberry Pi itself. Raspberry Pis run a version of Linux that’s a lot less scary than you might think. We messed up our installation, but you don’t have to do that!

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Next we had to set up the mini thermal printer (we bought ours from Adafruit). This involved cutting and stripping some wires, then screwing them into a DC power adapter so we could plug the printer into a power source. Then we installed the printer driver onto the Raspberry Pi.

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Once we did that we connected the printer to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins using the included wires and printed off a test page.

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Actually, first we wondered why nothing was working once we’d hooked everything up. Turns out you need to plug the HDMI cable into the Raspberry Pi in order to have anything show up on the computer screen. Despite being supposedly intelligent, tech-savvy graduate students, we forgot to do this at least four five times (so far) during this project.

Once we had the printer working we started work on hooking up the button. This is a complicated process that involves:
1. Acquiring a button that doesn’t actually have the necessary connectors.
2. Purchasing the wrong resistors.

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Of course you can choose not to follow our steps directly and just get the proper pieces the first time. Either way, you then wire everything into a breadboard and connect it to your Raspberry Pi. (Your breadboard doesn’t have to be quite so long, but we ended up using ten resistors instead of one because we originally had the wrong type.)

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You’ll then have to install or create a program on the Raspberry Pi that understands when your button has been pushed and tells the printer to print a review. We’ll hopefully have one available on our blog soon! The reviews for our machine are ones that we wrote and include title, author, and a brief description. You could choose to include other information such as ISBNs or call numbers.

Once all of that is done you’ll have a working machine that will print off book recommendations! You’ll probably want to get some sort of box to put everything in, but we’re still working on that.

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We haven’t completely finished this project yet, but we’ll be posting updates (and eventually complete instructions) to the ASIS&T at UBC blog! In the future we might expand the machine so that it will have more than one button to allow readers to pick from different genres, moods, or other qualities (books with covers the colour of the buttons?)

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We’ll be showing off our machine at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire on June 7th-8th at the PNE, you should come by and check it out!

Throughout the month of May students from UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies will be posting their best Readers’ Advisory tips to the RAIG blog!

Show Us Your Lists

This week’s guest blogger is Sarah Felkar, Digital Access Librarian at the West Vancouver Memorial Library.

Many libraries in British Columbia now are using Bibliocommons – a fantastic catalogue overlay that allows staff and patrons to leave ratings, reviews and make lists of content.

If your library uses Bibliocommons and you are able to add custom widgets to your website (or have the ear of someone who can) using the following tools can add interactivity to your website, blog or something to offer partners.

First, go to: http:// [libraryname] .bibliocommons.com/info/integration/

You will then find a list of different widgets that are currently available to use.

My current favourite is the user list carousel. You can choose any list to feature.

falsecarosuel

How to create and embed a carousel:

1) Copy your javascript snippet into notepad from:
http:// [libraryname] .bibliocommons.com/info/integration/ *

2) Locate the Bibliocommons User List Carosuel iframe code and paste above your javascript snippet. **

3) Create or locate the list you want to feature.

Example: http://westvanlibrary.bibliocommons.com./list/show/142960292_sarahfelkar/229483668_great_fantasy_novels_with_female_protagonists

and locate the number that occurs before the list name. Paste that number into the code. ***

4) On the webpage that you would like to place the carousel go to editing mode and:

  • In Drupal: click on “Disable rich-text” below the WYSIWG editor, and then paste in the code chunk.

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  • With WordPress.org sites, you need to install the iFrame plugin for the list to appear. But it works.
  • With WordPress.com (free) site, we are unfortunately out of luck (for the moment).

5) Save and publish!

Some ideas on what to use:

  • Staff Picks
  • List created for an event or holiday
  • To share with a partner organization
    • Like books on the topic of a current exhibit
    • Best gardening books for the local garden club

We’d love to see your carousels in action! Link to your examples in the comments.

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