We’re looking for a security system here at the San Rafael Public Library–some kind of remote way to indicate “Hey, something’s definitely wrong with staff member X who’s dealing with the public right now – go help!”

Staff at our various service desks at the Downtown Library (Circulation, Children’s, Adult, Administration) have no way to communicate to each other when something’s wrong at one of them (e.g. threatening individual, etc.).  The Library has two different floors and all of the desks are visually separated from each other – there is no line of sight from one to another – and in one case a door separates that desk from the rest of the building.  We were envisioning a flashing light system or something similar, easily, covertly, and quickly triggered with a button or a switch, and that would show the other desks which desk it was coming from. Our building does not have an intercom system, and staff are not always at their computers (often out on the floor), so something they can hold as a trigger, clip to a belt or a lanyard, would be more useful.  In short, we’re looking for something with multiple site-specific triggers and multiple output devices showing what’s been triggered.

Instead of spending hours researching this topic that I know nothing about, I put it out to the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook – knowing that the wisdom of the crowd would be faster and more extensive than anything I’d come up with on my own.  I thought I’d summarize the suggestions here for anyone else seeking out a similar solution. And hey – if you have another suggestion, bring it on!

Wireless call bell systems – These are like those little light-up vibrating things you get at some restaurants, such as these. Verdict: Might work; need to research more, especially re: how one triggers various models.

Centurion – I just like this for the Battlestar Galactica reference ;) Seriously, though, this is another version of a wireless call system but this one can transmit out messages on multiple platforms simultaneously once triggered: two-way radios, pagers, phones, and email. Verdict: Might work; need to research how the triggering mechanism works more.

Instant Messaging – A number of people suggested having every staff member have IM up while at work and to use that to send out a quick “911” or some similarly short message. Verdict: Need a trigger that could stay with the staff member. Also, not very covert.

Computer Help Button – Several people said they have a one-click “call for help” button on their computers, usually used to call for back-up staff because it’s busy, but which could be repurposed for crazy town incidents.  A 2008 Code4Lib article was helpfully linked to (oh, you librarians!). Verdict: Once again, I don’t think the computer-based idea will work well for us as so many of the problems happen when staff are away from their computers.

Intercom – Some folks suggested saying your own name or the department’s name over the intercom as a signal for help. Verdict: If only we had an intercom system. Also, not very covert.

Vocera – A number of people are using or otherwise recommended Vocera.  These small portable transmitters and receivers could work really well for what we need. Verdict: Pricey. Need to research more on what kinds of money we’re talking about.

Phone System – A few different version of using the existing phone system were suggested. Setting up a mass-call option and using a code word to indicate a problem. Verdict: Our phone system is VOIP and we’ve been told before this isn’t possible (though I’m guessing it probably actually is). Also, unless it was a single-touch button I don’t think it would be covert enough.

Doorbell System – A system like this could work–basic doorbell. People suggested different ring-tones or a different number of rings depending on which desk it was (e.g. 1 for Adult, 2 for Circ, etc.). Verdict: Need to research more. This could be covert if the bells could be carried easily in one’s pocket and we could have multiple transmitters and multiple broadcast speakers too.

Walkie TalkiesLots of these out there and pretty cheap. Buy the small headsets to pair with the actual units, push the call button to beep everyone else.  Again, a coded number of beeps could work to indicate location of problem. One person suggested buying repeaters to help with the thick-walled-ness of our very old building. Verdict: Need to research more. Covert, yes. Would staff actually wear the headsets? Don’t know.

Pager.net - This was suggested (in lovely detail; thanks Brian!) as a kind of multi-pronged approach. Device, software, and desk-transmitters.  Verdict: This could totally work. Need to research pricing and implementation (e.g. our thick freaking walls).

Arduino Home Panic Button – This was suggested as an open source solution, which made my heart all warm and fuzzy.  Verdict: Need to research implementation more.

EDSMay is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month. What is that, you may ask?

If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you’ll know that I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

You can read my posts from previous years (20092011, 2012) for details on what EDS is and how it has affected my life.  In short, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder. My body makes collagen that is messed up on a fundamental level. Collagen is everywhere–skin, internal organs, tendons, ligaments–so bad collagen = bad lots of other stuff.

What is EDS like for me? I live every day in pain. Every joint hurts. I just don’t notice it so much anymore, but if you stopped me on any given day and asked “Sarah, does your X joint hurt?” I would undoubtedly say yes after thinking for a moment. I can feel every joint at every moment of every day, some more than others. I get fewer dislocations than I used to but rib, wrist, and knee dislocations are still common for me. I have to be careful with how I sit, move, and interact with other objects and people. I bruise easily and my skin tears easily, and subsequently it takes me forever and a day to heal. My digestion is pretty jacked up. I have quite a few allergies and chemical sensitivities, one of those weird side effects of EDS.

There is no cure for EDS.  All I can do is manage the symptoms.

As I wrote last year, I am still off of all pain medications. YAY! Want to know which pain medications? Almost all of them. I tried dozens and was on several for a very long time and at very high doses. And the meds made me, well, not me. I’m so glad to be off of them.

Recently a doctor tried to give me oxycontin for a bunch of dislocated ribs and when I turned it down he got this look on his face like I’d just turned down a few million dollars. I explained why: that it had been so hard for me to get off of these medications and I never wanted to walk down that road again. He rolled his eyes. Such is the common reaction I get in the medical community. Exhibit EDS symptoms without an official diagnosis and they think you’re either mental or that you are a drug-seeking fiend. Have the same symptoms with an EDS diagnosis and turn drugs down and they think you’re an idiot.

I have to be very selective with doctors and other medical practitioners, finding people who either are familiar with treating EDS patients or are willing to learn. Case in point: I drive over 90 minutes to get to my dentist, the only person in the SF area I’ve found who knows what she’s doing (EDS also has lots of dental, jaw, and soft tissue symptoms). The good news is I have a great primary care doctor, dentist, gynecologist, and chiropractor. Still looking for a new massage therapist after my last one changed careers to rehabilitate abused horses (but how can I be mad at him for that?).

In the interest of keeping positive, here are some positive things about having EDS:

  1. Through posting on my blog and on local and international EDS support networks, I have communicated with hundreds of other people with this disorder.  Sometimes they support me and sometimes I support them. They’re a second family, of sorts–a family that inherently understands what my life is like without ever having met me.
  2. I can do fun/scary party tricks with my joints that freak the living hell out of people, especially people under the influence of something. It’s my ace in the hole for the “Wait, wait…watch this” game.
  3. My skin is simply amazing. Take that, skin creams and face lifts!

As with past posts I want to make clear I’m not asking for pity in any way. I’m asking for understanding and awareness. If you see people, especially children, in your life who dislocate joints, have chronic pain, digestion issues, heart problems, or who bruise or cut easily–ask the doctor about EDS. Since I went public with my diagnosis in 2009, I’ve had 9 librarians and 11 other readers come to me and say they or a family member have now been diagnosed with EDS after asking their doctors (and going through the usually months-long process of referrals, tests, geneticist consults, etc.).  And that’s why I talk about it–so fewer people have to wait until their mid-twenties or later to get a diagnosis.

To learn more about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, check out the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation , Ehlers-Danlos Network, and a resource list built by fellow librarian Rick Roche: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: A Reference Librarian Looks at Consumer Health Reference Sources. Or, you know, you could always just ask me :D

So about a month ago I got really icky sick.  I was off from work for a week and a half, and then back only half time for a while…  It’s been a nasty series of flus and colds and sinus infections.  The upside was the fun hallucinations I had with the high fever.  I only had one scary one (spiders) but had a lot of interesting and one plain-old-useful ones.  Yay for fever-induced delirium!

Why does this matter?  Well, I manage our library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and don’t have a back-up.  So when I got sick, particularly in those days when I was so ill I couldn’t even focus well enough to read a sentence, nothing was getting posted to our social media accounts.  The results?  See below for our library’s Facebook page stats.

FacebookStats

You don’t post? You don’t get people liking, commenting, or visiting.  You post half-heartedly because the codeine was affecting your brain?  You don’t get interactions.  Your audience is sick? You don’t get interactions.

Surprising? No. Good as a reminder that posting is important, responding is important? Yes.

Follow-Up (4/22/13)

And here’s what happens when both you and your community aren’t sick anymore and posting and reading gets back to normal.

FacebookStats2

4th Amendment WearBack in February, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a Department of Homeland Security report on laptop searches at U.S. borders.  The DHS had posted the executive summary of the report on its website, but nothing else.  The ACLU is still waiting for the complete report.  The executive summary basically says that upholding the Fourth Amendment, protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, is a pain in the ass and that reasonable suspicion or warrants are too much to ask in the case of seizing people’s electronic devices at our borders.

Really?

As someone who has had (unfortunately) extensive experience with the TSA, the DHS, and customs officials while traveling for both work and pleasure, I will share those experiences here along with some advice to protect your information.

Sarah and the Brass Knuckles

And here begins our story.  I have flown a lot in my lifetime.  Between personal and professional trips, I average one or two dozen trips a year.  About three years ago, I was flying from the Rochester NY airport to Grand Rapids, Michigan – going from my step-son’s graduation to my grandmother’s funeral.  I was stopped by the TSA screeners for having “brass knuckles” in my purse — in reality a 1 1/2″ cat face cheap metal keychain that did not resemble brass knuckles in the slightest.  I was pulled aside, my wallet was taken, and my bags thoroughly searched within my view.  I got mouthy…probably not my best choice, but I was pissed.  This was some over-zealous, bored Rochester TSA flunkie messing with me for no legitimate reason.  I was live-Tweeting it as it was happening.  I was asked to stop.  I said no.  I was asked to hand over my phone.  I said no.  I was asked to hand over my laptop.  I said no.  Eventually they let me go, confiscating the keychain that had made it through security in a couple dozen other airports, and with a warning that I was now on “THE LIST.”  I let fly a few F-bombs and boarded my plane for my grandmother’s funeral shaking from adrenaline and anger.  I wrote complaint letters to the Rochester Airport administration and to the TSA and got no reply from either (surprise, surprise).

Know Your Rights

So what did I do?  I did my research like a good little librarian.  I figured out what the TSA could and could not do within the U.S., and since I travel internationally I looked into what was legal at border crossings, particularly at airports.  Here are documents I suggest everyone read if you travel within the U.S. or internationally.  Know your rights.

Cheat Sheet of TSA Screenings and Your Rights (PDF) – This document gives good advice of what to do, what not to do, what to ask, and what your rights are.

ACLU’s Know Your Rights When Traveling – This covers everything: interviews, body scanners, pat-downs, searches of bags and electronics, confiscation of items, medication, children, etc.

Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices – Written for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), this is a good guide whether you’re traveling internationally or just within the states…or if you just plain want to know how to secure the data on your devices.  This covers electronics searches at the border but also provides instructions on backing up your data, minimizing the data you carry, encrypting your data, and specific tips for different types of devices.  I do all of these things and more…as I’m more than a bit paranoid now.

What Can They Do to My Electronic Devices?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection say that they can not only search but also confiscate your electronic devices at the border–laptops, phones, cameras, you name it.  And they can do it all without any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing or warrants.  The ACLU, EFF, and other organizations are fighting this – but it’s a slow process.  What you can, and should do, if you are asked to hand over your electronics is outlined in this document–but at the bare minimum ask to see the supervisor, get a receipt for your device, and have the search conducted in front of the supervisor.  What tends to happen, especially to people on THE LIST, is that they take your electronics out of the room, dump a copy onto their own hard drives, and then give them back to you.  They just copied all your data–files, browsing history, contact lists, everything–and you had no ability to stop it.  I call bullshit, and thankfully so does the ACLU.  This is why many people who know they are on THE LIST no longer carry their own devices, instead handing them off to trusted travel companions or mailing them from place to place.

So Then What Happened Now That Sarah Was On THE LIST?

After the Rochester incident I was pulled out of line for “special screening” literally every time I flew, and seven times I was taken into back rooms for additional questioning and searches.  I never agree to go through the full body scanner–not enough science or privacy protection behind those to make me feel safe.  I always demand the manual pat-down, which thrills them to no end I’m sure.  I feel badly for them sometimes–what a crap job to have to stick your hands down people’s pants and feel up their legs and armpits. Almost as unpleasant for them as it is for me, but I always make them do it in a public area and I always loudly proclaim why I won’t go through the scanner–hoping to educate more people about the lack of privacy and safety testing on some of the devices.

No one ever tried a full body search on me – which is a good thing because if they’d tried to make me strip and do a cavity search at least two people would have emerged from that room bloodied and needing medical attention (and I probably would have been arrested).

So to reiterate–we’re talking me being pulled out of line every time I flew anywhere, about 30-40 times in a row.  I tried dressing differently (more conservatively, more casually, more dressy), being quiet, being loud, being polite, being indifferent,…it didn’t matter.  Don’t tell me there isn’t facial recognition software being used in TSA screening lines, because there is.  There’s no other way to explain my being pulled out every time.

Fortunately, I came prepared.  I won’t go over everything I did to protect my data (a girl’s gotta have some secrets), but here are some of the things I did.  I had partitioned and encrypted my laptop up the yin yang.  There was one partition that booted up to public stuff–my personal email account that I use for nothing serious or secret, no work-related stuff, boring web browser history, etc.  Then there was my “real” laptop–a partition that only booted up with a secondary password and which would shut down on a deadman switch unless I re-entered a password every 20 minutes.  I also installed Paranoid Android on my phone (one of many reasons to have an Android device instead of an iPhone).  I have since performed similar security measures with my Android tablet, which I now travel with instead of a laptop.  If anybody wants to know the extensive security measures I take with my data, let me know.  I’m sure I still have gaps, but am happy to share what I do know with others.  Email or DM me and I’ll help.

Taking a cue from Jacob Appelbaum (a personal hero of mine who I knew before he became all famous and hunted by the feds), I also started carrying around a single USB stick with the text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on it and nothing else.  Whenever the TSA or customs officials would ask me for my electronic devices, I’d give them that.  The funny thing is they wouldn’t ask what was on it–just walk away with it and come back, hand it to me, and make some snarky comment about socialists, hippies, communists, or liberals.  And I would sweetly smile for an uncomfortably long time until they looked away.  That is always my favorite part.  Sarah’s “gotcha” smile.

Every time they demanded to see my laptop or my phone, I said no. I said they had no reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing and therefore would be violating the Fourth Amendment were they to seize my belongings.  I wrote down the names and ranks of everyone I dealt with in each encounter.   I live-Tweeted if I could get a connection where they had me stashed.  I always asked for a supervisor to be present, I asked why I had been pulled aside (never got an answer), and I told them they could not detain me and make me miss my flight or I would be entitled to restitution and they didn’t want to explain that to their bosses, now did they?  I was usually polite, though in a couple of cases I admit to getting so frustrated that some name-calling did occur.  When one agent tried to swipe my phone from my pocket while I was mid-sneeze, I grabbed his wrist in a death grip and said “Over my dead body, motherfucker.”  The look on that guy’s face was priceless–but also one of the scariest moments in my life when I thought “Oh, I’m gonna end up in Gitmo, aren’t I?”

On the lighter side of things, I also bought some Fourth Amendment Wear (I got the bra and panty combo) which displays the text of the 4th Amendment in metallic ink over your private bits so if you are going through the scanner it shows up in the scan (I never go through the scan, but it’s still funny).

What About International Travel?

Twice crossing the U.S. border — once coming in from Montreal and once coming in from Amsterdam — I was pulled aside, searched, and again they tried to seize my electronics.   I said they were perfectly entitled to rip them out of my hands, but that it was unreasonable search and seizure, I would take them to court, and they really didn’t want that.  The most fun time was in Montreal when I was asked what I’d been doing in Montreal I said I’d spoken at a librarian conference and was headed straight to another one in Michigan.  The guy looked me up and down (and granted I was dressed rather punky–combat boots, zipper-laden skinny jeans, fishnet shirt) and said “Yeah right–come with me.”  This was when I most lost my temper.  I produced my ALA membership card, my staff ID card for my library, and I still had my frigging conference badge on.  And yet that wasn’t enough.  That was the time I got the mouthiest and was likely most at risk for some serious blowback for not cooperating.  When I finally convinced them that I was a librarian (stereotype much?) they let me go.  But in both of these cases, I gave them the USB drive but refused to hand over anything else…and they didn’t force the issue.  Perhaps I was lucky.  Perhaps knowing my rights made me a less easy target for them.  I honestly don’t know.

Aaaaaand The White House

The most fascinating thing about all of this was in January 2012 I was asked to go to the White House to live-Tweet the State of the Union address.  This was *awesome* but I was convinced I wouldn’t pass the background check because I was on THE LIST.  But I passed.  And when I left to fly to DC a couple days later, miraculously I was not pulled out of line.  Not on the way back either.  Or any of the times I’ve flown since then (except the time in Montreal, which I am convinced was based on how I looked, not who I was).  So…apparently if you get cleared to go to the White House, you magically get to be off of THE LIST, or so I assume.  Only time will tell.

My Advice

You could say I’m paranoid. You could say the surveillance state is real and I should just accept it.  You could say nothing I do is that interesting or important to get me in trouble so why do all of this (but you don’t really know me or what I do, do you?).  But this is real, people.  Your data is being mined, and when you’re traveling with data you’re at serious risk.  There’s no reason to make it easier for law enforcement to screw you over and violate your rights.

Read the documents I linked to.  Know the risks, and know your rights.  The risk of search and seizure of your data is real.  You know Facebook already owns your ass, as does Amazon and Google and all the other mega-corps who we sadly willingly give our data to.  But you don’t have to hand that stuff over to the government just because you’re traveling.  Minimize the data you carry with you.  Get yourself a USB drive with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on it.  And, alas, try to be more calm and polite than I ended up being during a few of my altercations.  I do not respond well to arbitrary authority, and I’m sure that ended up prolonging my stay in a few airports.  Be smarter than I was.  Be firm, but polite.  But overall–be educated.  Know that the TSA and DHS can pwn you and your data if they so choose.  And do you damndest to prevent them from doing it.

Power to the people.

I haven’t been writing much lately on my blog (in case you hadn’t noticed the utter lack of updates).  I took over as Acting Director for the San Rafael Public Library 15 months ago and as Director 9  months ago.  Before that time, I was averaging 20-30 posts a month.  In the last four months I’ve posted twice.  That makes me sad.

I still am active daily on Twitter and Facebook, but I have been so burned out by work and personal life stress that thinking about libraries after I get home is (sorry to say) the absolute last thing I want to do.  I’ve also cut way back on my speaking engagements–down from 44 in 2011 to 25 in 2012, and looking forward it looks to be around 10 for 2013.  Sorry kids–I’m tired from my day job and real life.  The limitless power source that was my professional engagement has apparently found its limit.

What motivated me to post today was someone asking about a follow-up to the stalker post that I wrote on Halloween 2011.    I was asked–Are things better? Have things changed? Are people less creepy now and leaving you alone?

Sadly, no.  Since I wrote that post I have received:

  • several more unwanted advances and “touches” at conferences (including a drunk librarian in underwear only knocking on my hotel room door), which is part of why I dialed back my speaking engagements – I’m so sick of this shit
  • a marriage proposal from a fellow librarian (who I don’t know from Adam) who started it off with the very romantic “Now that you’re finally divorced and everything…”
  • two hand-written mailed death threats at work
  • numerous anonymous bouquets of flowers on my home doorstep, some with creepy stalker-ish poetry, which I traced back to…
  • a local stalker who eventually revealed himself while I was on a break outside the library, physically assaulted me, and got slapped with a restraining order after I kicked him where it counts and grabbed his wallet and ID when he was on the ground to get identification

And frankly, there has been a lot of stress in my work life in the last year.  The inevitable personnel and budget challenges at work, a huge uptick in illegal behavior in the library resulting in a lot of banning, a small claims lawsuit filed against the library, a patron who said he’d “bury me in paper” and then did so through numerous FOIA requests, pests and mold in the library, the facility literally falling down around us, and in general feeling that this “trial by fire new director” thing is not the best way of learning things.

So between work being insane, creepy people still making themselves seen, and an emotionally taxing personal life…yeah, I’m not writing as much, I’m not presenting as much, and I’m not as active on library issues as I used to be.  I am hoping that spark will come back and I will want to start writing again.  I guess this is the first step toward that.

Year in Review

December 17, 2012 | Comments (9)

It’s the year in review! Below are my favorites from 2012, just because.  I did this last year too (2011’s version):

Book – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Movie – Iron Sky

Band – The Album Leaf

Song – “This is How It Ends” by Devotchka

Serious Technology – Nexus 7 tablet

Less Serious Technology – stainless steel pet water fountain

Conference – Internet Librarian in Monterey

Fan Girl Squee Moment – dancing with David J (from Bauhaus and Love and Rockets) at a club and having him ask me for book recommendations

New Service for Libraries – Geek the Library

Personal Accomplishment – finishing my ginormous, very black back tattoo without crying

Professional Accomplishment – being hired as Director for the San Rafael Public Library

Library Innovation – sea dragons (I don’t think any libraries actually have these, but I want sea dragons in my library so there)

Indoor Event – Ghost Ship

Outdoor Event – Folsom Street Fair

Support for a DRM-free Future – Humble Bundle eBooks

Bar – The Pint Size (San Rafael)

Treat – vegan peanut butter cups from Sjaak’s

Photo of me that you will never see – shoveling powdered-sugar-covered funnel cake in my face at the Marin County Fair

Meme – Grumpy Cat

Sadly, I only got a half dozen or so videos for the Shit Librarians Say contest.  We had a *ton* of comments left on the post with suggestions for content for video clips, but not enough people have sent stuff in yet to make it substantial enough.  So keep the submissions coming – and if you’re not sure what to say, hey–a bunch of your colleagues have some really cute ideas.  The videos should be short – 5-15 seconds on average.  Doesn’t take long, just make sure the audio quality is good please :)  We’ll see if we can get enough people to spout of ridiculousness to make this video happen!

Internet Librarian: Reinventing Spaces & Places

Erik Boekesteijn, Jaap Van de Geer, Jeff Wisniewski, Paul R. Pival

Do we let our spaces work hard enough for us? What are successful spaces doing? We don’t have any space…  And the successful spaces we see have similarities: flexibility, creation, collaboration, and tradition (maybe).

We cannot save libraries by doing more of what we have done before because the outcome will be the same.  What are the roots of librarianship? Supporting and encouraging creation.  In our spaces, then, we need to move away from spaces that are simply used to manage content to spaces that facilitate collaboration and creation.

Six years ago Erik & Jaap set out to build the most modern library in the world with DOK in Delft, Netherlands.  They drove across the U.S. collecting best practices from various libraries.  Jaap recommends a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad about financial education.  Don’t work for money – see if money can work for you.  We don’t let our spaces work for us – we work for them.  Apple is the rich dad; the library is the poor dad.   The Amsterdam Apple store is packed with people using services while the Amsterdam Public Library (a gorgeous, expensive new space) is largely devoid of people.

A start-up in the Netherlands, Viewsy, lets you measure and manage foot traffic. That might be an interesting thing to take a look at.  We have to be brave in a relentless focus on the user.

What are successful spaces doing?  The Library of 100 Talents in the North of Holland.  If we want to go after our future users, we need to talk to our teens.  They had the teens work with a designer and architect to design their own teen space.  The TFDL Digital Media Commons provides a creation space – 12 Mac Pros with full A/V editing suites, 4 soundproof editing suites with full AV capabilities, and a DJ Mixing Board, collaborative workrooms with TeamSpot group collaboration software.

The Fountaindale Public Library is establishing a 7,000 square foot digital media content creation space.

The Westport Connecticut Public Library MakerSpace is in the middle of the library.  They have an engineer in residence who works in the MakerSpace and helps folks design things on CAD, use the MakerBot, etc.

The University of Washington Research Commons provides collaborative working spaces where students can share ideas in public locations, promoting peer learning.

McMaster University Lyons Media Centre has a gaming room that supports 3 academic programs that study game creation and use.

Collaborative spaces need flexibility and be able to have multiple uses.

You can rent out spaces as well, as the Assen Public Library (Netherlands) has done.  They built a television studio and hired their own staff to record programs, and they rent the space out when it’s not in use by students.

The keys to success – You have to start by listening to your users and involving the community by making them a part of the library.  The DOK library is about fun – gathering stories, creating fun spaces.  Their “wall of screens” displays local stories that people can add their own content to through their library card and a special surface touch table.  DOK has some truly awesome stuff…everywhere you look there’s something different to see, to do, to experience. (Sarah’s note: It is my favorite library I’ve been to, and I’ve been to A LOT.)

The Arhus Library in Denmark (the UrbanMedia Space) has a design for the exterior of the space, but zero definitive plans for the inside space yet because they think if they plan now it will be outdated by the time it’s built.  The vision is to create a unique space for cooperation, a place for dialogue, knowledge, ideas, and inspiration, an open and informal learning space, and a unique place for children. People are the key.

We need flexible libraries and spaces, as well as flexible teams.

Flexible furniture: with casters, grommets, lightweight, collapsible, movable

We need some people with a smart plan on using the space well – filling it for events.

We also need more wifi than we can possibly imagine we will actually need.

Have raised floors if you’re building or renovating a space – power and network everywhere, no matter where the furniture ends up.  Our users want two things: network and power.

We need agile walls (example of University of North Texas). “De-mountable walls.”

iPads are replacing all of their children’s gaming desktop computers at the North Shore Public Library.  This freed up space and the iPads are much easier to manage than the computers were.  Plus, the games are cheaper on the iPads, and users love them more.

There is a product called the Media Surfer kiosk that you can configure to dispense a device with the swipe of a library card.  It wipes the iPad, requires no staff mediation (but doesn’t clean the screen—which would be nice :P).

We need to start thinking of our spaces as products and services that we can market.  The Stanford University Libraries lists their libraries, but have a “which library is open now” feature and advertise the library as a place to study…not just a place to go get a book.

Jeff highlighted a library in Washington that had created a scale of noise, and different levels of noise were allowed on different floors.

So if we have no space. 2/3 of library budgets are tied up in staff and rent.  We have to start thinking about how we can make the library work harder for us.  We need to reclaim space—take space away from things that aren’t working and aren’t being used.  For many libraries, that’s a big portion of your print collection.  You can also share space—Nova Southeastern University Library was building a shared facility with the Public Library.

The Amsterdam has a Library in the Airport with a focus on books and videos on the Netherlands. SO SMART.

We don’t work for books. We let the stories and the visitors work for us.  The Assen Library has a conveyer belt built into a recently returned bookshelf that you can target by subject (somehow, I’m not sure I understand how—that’s pretty cool though!).

The National Library of Singapore is collecting stories from their residents.  And that’s what libraries should be doing.

Collaborating to Demonstrate Value

Margaret Hazel, Louise Alcorn, Erik Bobilin

Margaret started by talking about her work with the City of Eugene as the Technology Manager for the City’s Library.  Their city’s budget goals and framework are based on three goals – getting to a sustainable budget, maintaining services to citizens, and not laying people off.  Brainstorming with the whole organization about what the City could do to work smarter.  Some ideas – stop serving food at city meetings, look for expertise in-house instead of contracting out, promote cooperation across departments and divisions.  The library intranet is City-facing.  It’s encouraged City staff to reach out to the library staff for information and help.  Their tag line is “What do you want to know today?”  They have links for library cards for employees, links to the library’s online resources and services, etc.  They did a dog and pony show for the different departments about how the library can help them with their work.  They discovered that departments had been paying for article access that the library could also provide to them for free (saving the other departments $ again).  Some of the research they’ve done for other departments – police funeral and mourning traditions, copyright permission info, commercial food waste programs, local aerial historical photos, search alerts for local mentions.  They’ve had 30 research questions of varying complexity come from the different departments over the last year.

Erik talked about his work at the Brooklyn Public Library.  Their budget went from great in 2007 to awful from 2008 on.  They focused in their budget discussions with the city on loss of programs, collections, etc.  They didn’t focus initially on how it would negatively affect other city departments’ abilities to do their jobs.  They hadn’t really taken an outcomes based approach before, and they had to think about how they were marketing themselves and offering meaningful experiences.  They worked on the diversity visa lottery in 2006 – a literacy program, computer basics classes, etc.  They did something called the Skills Training and Employment Project, part of WorkForce1—a mayoral initiative, kind of like a city-funded temp agency.  They started creating programs with FINRA, a group trying to help communities in Brooklyn that were hit by the recession really hard.  Lessons learned: own the content, and access is not enough anymore.  They’ve partnered with the city on additional jobs initiatives.  A big partnership is the MyLibraryNYC project – a partnership between the New York City Libraries (Queens, Brooklyn, & NYPL) and the Department of Education.  They’re going to have one unified interface to their catalogs now and allow for inter-library delivery of items between public and school libraries. Great stuff!  They’ve had much better budget discussions as a result of the additional partnerships they’ve had with the city.  Now they have tangible outcomes that connect library services with organizational values.

Louise closed off the panel by talking about a web design project for her city.  There were 13 city departments represented on the web committee, only one of whom had web experience (Louise, the librarian, of course).  She took the opportunity to project manage the entire web project, got everyone to agree on the design and color schemes, navigation, etc.  No shouting matches, no back room conniving, no back-stabbing.  Library staff were then perceived as a knowledge resource for future projects.  For example, she trained people on the city’s new help desk software system.

Speed Technology Dating

Patrick Sweeney, Toby Greenwalt, and Jeremy Snell

  • Trello – Web app and native app versions, project management and organization. Good tool for working collaboratively with others.
  • LogMeIn – remote desktop sharing tool, small little software download. Useful for remotely accessing your own computer or other people’s to do tech support, and can do on Android and iOS devices.
  • Library Box – a digital library in a box, open on a wifi network. Toby suggested it would be cool to put one of these in the little pop-up libraries that are sprouting up in libraries all over the place.
  • Tumblr site – The Kid Should See This – videos, demos, science, technology, art…good curated portal for interesting kid stuff
  • Air Video – iOS only, but if you’re running a video server on a network you can browse and view the videos on any iOS device.  The file formats that iOS doesn’t support luckily are converted by Air Video on the fly…that’s pretty nice!
  • Join Me Viewer – allows you to share your screens over the web. Get everybody looking at the same screen, up to 250 users seeing your screen. Good training tool.  Available on almost any device, including mobile. Free, with a paid version ($149) that lets you do a little bit more.
  • Every Block – Started as a crime map Google Maps mash-up in Chicago. Now has a ton more data. Community events, real estate transactions, message board, crime stats, inspection data, etc. Available in 19 different cities so far.
  • Tackk.com – Founded on the idea of fliers, websites that expire.  Can create a very simple print-friendly display for an event coming up.  Good for doing some good graphics and event pages for your library events.  Can sign up for a free account and customize your URLs, and set expiration dates on the pages too.
  • TurntableFM / RollingFM – you can upload music, select from music already provided, start your own DJ party in these little virtual rooms, avatars, can vote DJs up and down,
  •  Nextdoor – Another neighborhood tool. This site lets you define your own community’s boundaries, nothing pre-defined.  Community bulletin board, 36 cities so far, still in a beta phase.
  • Wallwisher – Can post name, links to images and webpages, kind of a “tell us what you think” feedback tool.  A good way to get community feedback on what you’re doing.  Many uses in education as well.  You can set it so you can pre-moderate the posts if you’re worried about naughty things showing up.
  • Sphero – Little rolly ball toy that you can control with your smartphone. You could roll one of these little things up to people you want to engage with—maybe an easier way to approach people than walking up to them.  Attracts attention, people want to talk and know about it.  A great way to break the ice with kids and teens.
  • Art.sy – art info, fun to browse through, good for kids, can highlight connection between elements of a collection
  • Snaggy – Screen capture and annotation tool.  Take your screenshot, then go to Snag.gy and paste it in to the browser-based editing tool, edit it, and then save/share/send a link to it to others.  Way faster than desktop tools.
  • Liquid Space – Have patrons reserve space online (e.g. meeting rooms). Sends you, as the library, a notification that someone has reserved a room for a specific time.  Helps advertise that you have meeting rooms too.
  • Noon Pacific – An email newsletter.  Weekly at noon Pacific time you get a playlist of five songs they’ve chosen from music blogs in the last week.
  • CopyPasteCharacter.com – Diacritics and weird symbols you can copy and paste into your documents.  You can toggle between HTML and non-HTML.
  • Barnes & Noble Nooks – will train staff, let you circ one copy of one title on six devices simultaneously.
  • Oyster – a streaming eBook service that just started up, trying to launch by the end of the year.
  • The Noun Project – beautiful icons for just about anything you can think of.  (Sarah’s note: I LOVE THIS SITE! You can make custom t-shirts with icons you want too. I’ve done this as a gift and made one for myself – too fun!)
  • SifteoCubes – you get 6 cubes in a box, you can play games, early literacy teaching,
  • Raspberry Pi – a tiny little circuit board that is a full-fledged computer with a video port, an audio out, and USB connectors.  They’re cheap ($25-$35).  They’re designed by this non-profit to get kids learning how to program.
  • Patch – Different small towns and areas have Patch sites, local reporters who write about what’s going on nearby.  Users can comment, submit announcements, events, photos, etc.
  • Show Me – app for iPad or tablet that lets you record tutorials by just drawing on the screen and it will record your audio as well.   You can upload the video then to the Show Me website and share it with your library folks.
  • Makey Makey – circuit board that connects to your computer through USB and comes with a set of alligator clips. Maps keyboard commands to points on the card.  Can conduct electricity through it and basically turn anything into an input device for your computer.  $39.
  • GovTrack.us – Tracking information about federal and state government legislation.  Much better than Thomas.  Screen-scrapes other government sites and mashes it all up together on one page, instead of a whole bunch of smaller pages and PDFs as you often find on other government info sites.
  • Tablets – Everybody has their own version of tablets and people are using these creatively in libraries.  Roaming reference, book review sharing in the stacks (Sarah’s additions: animated and rotating electronic signage, tablet storytimes.)
  • Lightt – iOS only, “Instagram for video.”  Each video is only allowed to be 10 seconds.  Not a lot of people on it right now.
  • Rally.org – crowd-sourced fundraising tool like Kickstarter or Indigogo.  It does all the payment processing like the others do, but they do their own payment processing so it’s cheaper (4.5% flat).  Indigogo has two different pricing structures, both of which are higher.  Same with Kickstarter.  EveryLibrary is using this for their fundraising site.
  • LoudSauce – specifically to raise funding for advertising and marketing (interesting!)