Thursday, November 5, 2015

Learning Careers & Your Development

Author: Julie Zamostny, Staff Development Coordinator, Western MD Regional Library

Nigel Paine presented this workshop at Elliot Masie's Learning 2015 Conference.

This was a conversational session during which all of the participants broke themselves up into smaller groups in order to talk about we we do to keep our careers fresh and moving forward. This basically turned into a discussion on how we *should* be using LinkedIn more effectively. I feel like I have a decent LinkedIn profile and I update all of my projects as they come about but the one thing I do not do well on LinkedIn is post original thoughts; and that was my a-ha moment.

My LinkedIn profile header. 
During the session, one thing that dawned on me that I never got a chance to share (Nigel spent the last several minutes with his back to the area in which I was sitting and my raised hand never managed to catch his eye before we ran out of time): how many companies/organizations require community engagement as part of their employees' learning and development? This question lead me to write this unfinished essay while on the plane ride home:

How many of us give away our talents and skills beyond our employers and customers?
If you’re a web designer, do you volunteer your time at the United Way by helping them with pro bono web design projects? If you’re a marketer, do you volunteer your time at your local humane society by designing advertisements or creating social media posts for them for free? If you’re a really great listener, do you volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister and mentor a kid who needs someone to hear her and take an interest in her development as a fellow human being?
I don’t think enough of us share our skills and talents with our communities at large and this is not only a disservice to ourselves but to our companies and to our communities general.
We hurt ourselves because if we want to grow our professional networks so we are able to move into richer, potentially more fulfilling roles and positions, then we need to share our work with those beyond our water coolers. We need to cast a wider net and diversify our social circles. Otherwise, when Jane Doe Executive has a Lead Web Designer position come open, she will think of you first because 1) you both serve on the Marketing and Communications committee of the United Way and 2) she’s experienced first-hand how you work and the quality of your products, and 3) you’ve mentioned in passing wat your career aspirations are. You’re no longer a post-it note swimming in a big pond of resumes.
Companies are doing a disservice to themselves if they are not requiring community volunteering of all their employees because they’re missing an opportunity to develop employees who 1) have a vested interest in the local world around them, 2) are therefore more invested in their roles at the company, and 3) are therefore less likely to look for jobs elsewhere. This seems like common sense to me and yet, why aren’t we making community involvement a part of their training and development plans?
And I’m talking about all employees, not just the C-Suite and middle managers. Every. Single. Employee. If we only require one section of our organization to be embedded in the community, a reward in and of itself, then the rest of the staff will be missing out on a very enriching experience. Everyone in the organization should: 1) feel that they have something to give back, to share (because they do) and, 2) be given the recognition, opportunity, and support to share that something with their local community in a constructive and meaningful way.
This isn’t a new idea; I feel like Seth Godin talked about this in one of his books for which I cannot remember the citation, and Austin Kleon wrote about it, too, in Show Your Work. Beverly Kaye’s book on Help them grow or watch them grow – is perhaps more on point. They didn’t make the connection to job satisfaction and employee retention that I am attempting to here, but they talked about sharing what we know beyond our colleagues.

For another time: why I think public libraries especially should be doing this…

The Learning Challenge: Dealing with Technology, Innovation, & Change

Author: Julie Zamostny, Staff Development Coordinator, Western MD Regional Library

Nigel Paine presented this workshop at Elliot Masie's Learning 2015 Conference

This was a fantastic session - as are most of Nigel's sessions I've attended over the years - and below are my main takeaways about which I want to learn more. 
  1. Learning is only effective when people care. Learning sticks when people have an emotional attachment to either the reason they have to learn something new and/or to the content itself. This made me think, yet again, of Simon Sinek's Start with Why, and I really wish all staff were required to complete his course as part of their career development. I completed it last year and it was an enlightening experience and continues to influence my work.
  2. 20 minutes of 'normal' paced walking is enough to prepare the brain to learn. After 20 minutes of walking, the brain will maintain a read-to-learn state for about 45 minutes. 
  3. Pomodoro Technique is a work style in which you work in 20 minute bursts segmented by 5 minutes of rest in between. I learned later, in a different session, that this corresponds with how our hippocampus works; it can only sustain active receiving of new information for a max of 20 minutes until it needs a rest. 
  4. Nigel quote of the day, "Leadership [development programs] fail because we give up before it becomes habitual." 
It's on this quote that I want to philosophize more...

According to Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit

Habits= Trigger --> Routine Behavior --> Reward. 

But what are the triggers, routine behaviors, and rewards for habitual leadership? Here's what I think:

Trigger: an awareness of a situation that challenges a core value or belief? Thinking this isn’t right 
or, this could be better. 

Routine Behavior: take the initiative to speak up and/or take action?

Reward: neurotransmitters, a problem solved, recognition for job well done, validation, etc?

I feel like I'm an habitual leader so, what are my triggers, routines, and rewards?

Example situation: creating the emerging technology collection back in 2010.

The Trigger: awareness that staff do not have readily available access to the emerging technologies 
that patrons are expecting library staff to help them with. 

The Routine Behavior: purchase emerging technologies and make them available for staff to use 
however they want; and provide training on how on how to use those technologies.

The Reward: see increase in circulation as well as an increase in the use of those technologies in 
library programs. See also an increase in requests for more technologies as they become available. Translates into validation and problem solved. 

Empowerment and autonomy plays a huge role in developing habitual leaders, however...and that is a topic for another blog post. 

Black Eyed Susan Tapestry (BEST)

Author Name: Amanda Kaufman
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:

1. How books are selected for the Black Eyed Susan awards, the voting process for selecting the winners, and discussions on the selected books for this year.
2. Top rated Picture Books for 2015 so far.
3. Top rated children's chapter books for 2015 so far.

How to implement: 
Great way to learn how to incorporate the Black Eyed Susan nominees/winners from each year into library programming (such as Battle of the Books or Book Clubs). You learn how to book talk the nominees to get kids reading, and are given a CD of all nominees with a synopsis of the book and programming/activity ideas to use. I have chosen to use some of the Black Eyed Susan nominees in my Home School Book Club.

Elementary Algebra

Author Name: Dennis McPherson
Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library

[Hagerstown Community College online class: MyMathLab by Pearson]

Top 3 things learned:
1) How to work with positive and negative numbers (multiplication, division, etc.)
2) The basics of algebra- which really encompasses a lot of different elements.
3) Using graphs for algebraic operations.

How to implement:
This class is required to help me to get to the level I need to take and pass college level algebra, which I will need in order to get my associates degree, which is the next step towards ultimately getting my library degree. As far as implementing it into what I do, I think some of the elements I learned in algebraic problem solving could help me in some degree in my everyday tasks.

Additional learning:
In the future, I will still need to take another algebra course (Mat-100) before I reach the college level algebra required to obtain a degree.

Lead the Change: Transform Your Stacks to Drive Circulation

Author Name: Christopher McGee
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems

Learning Event website:

Top 3 things learned:
1. Although libraries do many valuable things, there are other agencies and organizations that exist entirely to do many of those things. They may do those things better or worse than libraries do, but regardless of that, it's what they are known for. A 2013 PEW survey reveals that 80% of Americans
aged 16 and over think that books and media are an important public library service. Librarian assistance was considered important by 76%. Comparatively, computers, internet, and printers were important to only 58%. Reading is the library brand. It's what libraries are known for and what we
do better than anyone else.

2. There are more books published today than at any other time in history, but with the closure of big-box bookstores, there are fewer places for people to discover books.

3. Rather than placing customer convenience at the highest premium, make it worthwhile for patrons to seek the items they want by making attractive displays that will appeal to them as they walk to the items they already know they want. (Move the milk to the back of the store.)

How to implement:
Change displays frequently, preferably at least once every three weeks so that patrons see something new when they return items they've checked out. Make the displays attractive. Tie displays into the stacks with end caps and shelf talkers.

Additional learning: We learned a bit about merchandising techniques like the Rule of 3, symmetrical and asymmetrical arrangement, and using color to promote or provoke.

Kids Are Customers, Too

Author Name: Abigail Andrews
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:

  1. How to host a dance party for children of all ages
  2. How to host a digital camp for pre-school aged children to learn how to use laptops and tablets
  3. About key skills and knowledge families need to effectively use technology in developmentally appropriate and intentional ways with young children

How to implement:
I've been hearing about libraries having dance parties, especially for active little ones, and have thought about trying to do one. Now, I've heard someone talk through the process (scheduling, picking music, structure), and I feel more confident in how to go about the planning process. The presenter mentioned a Noon Year's Eve Party- that might be a fun time to start! The presenter mentioned using primarily traditional kids music, such as Jim Gill, Greg and Steve, Laurie Berkner, etc.

Additional learning:
The keynote speaker, Tanya Baronti from the Fred Rogers Center, sparked my interest in investigating the Center's work regarding children and technology.

Cybersecurity workshop

Author Name: Stacy Winters
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems

Top 3 things learned:

  1. How to tell if a site you are on is a secure site.
  2. How to keep your information safe from hackers.
  3. I learned some different web sites to check out to keep your information safe.
  4. To be aware of your surroundings and watch out for people around you.

How to implement: 
Just to try and make sure we remind patrons to log out of any online accounts when they are done, and also to make sure they end all sessions when finished.

Cybersecurity workshop

Author Name: Sherry Dickens
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems

Top 3 things learned:

  1. basic http(s)
  2. better password(s)
  3. improved general knowledge on this subject

How to implement:

  • inform
  • share
  • relate

Additional learning: I really would like to see more workshops in this area of modern technology

Code in Libraries: Squishy Circuits

Author name: Tammy L. Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library
Date of program: 09/17/2015

Description of Activities:

  • Explored electricity using LEDs, a battery, playdoh and clay.
  • Children learned about series circuits and parallel circuits.
  • Two adults and five children attended

Cybersecurity Workshop

Author Name: Ashley Swinford
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems

Top 3 things learned:

  • How hackers breach our personal information, tactics they use to try to pry personal information from us
  • Good strategies for safe passwords 
  • Several resources for free security software and monitoring tools

How to implement:
I will use this information everyday when I'm helping patrons use the computers. I'm asked several times what type of password they should create...I plan to create a "how to create a safe password"
handout for the public computer area.

Kids Are Customers, Too

Author Name: Amanda Kaufman
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:
1. In regards to the use of technology with young children, technology should enhance and not replace learning.
2. Make passive technology experiences with children active by asking questions, talking about the experience, doing activities, and seeing how it relates to your life.
3. All the reasons music is needed in child programming, how to implement, and playlists to use.

How to implement: 
With exercise and movement the summer reading theme for 2016, implementing techniques from Bibliobop or creating a movement program for young children would be a great way to incorporate what was learned at the conference into summer reading programming.

Additional learning: - for low income families who qualify for free school lunch programs - this resource allows families to have access to low cost internet and electronic devices if they qualify.

leafsnap - an app that shows kids how a leaf changes through the seasons. You take a picture with the app of a leaf and it will transform. - technology resources for children age birth-8.

Something Wicked This Way Comes of Age

Author Name: Tammy Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:
We learned why it is important to understand the appeal of horror to teens. We may have our own feelings about horror to deal with, we are the defenders of their choices, and if w understand the appeal we understand their issues better. Horror is a window into their worries. We learned about the mechanics of horror's appeal. Horror makes us realize we are not alone in our fears. Teens gain reassurance by reading about kids just like them who are going through things so much worse than what they are. We discussed the different types of horror and books specific to that type.

How to implement:
This class helped with Reader's Advisory for teen horror. I could also create a book display or teen program in this genre.

Dell World

Author Name: Ian Seibert
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Learning Event website:

Top 3 things learned:
1. The Powerconnect series of switches have been discontinued and replaced with the N series of switches. The models are similar and have similar model features but have been enhanced with some new features.

2. The SonicWall firewall by processing numbers is still one of the best on the market and in future upgrades we will need to be careful to watch the ability to decrypt and inspect data in real time which is very processor intensive.

3. Dell's recent bid to acquire EMC will also mean that VMware will now be a Dell company. This acquisition could also have some interesting changes to our data storage product lines.

How to implement:
Our upgrade path for the switches will most likely be to the new N series. I will need to investigate the individual models in more depth before a decision is made. The SonicWall product line still looks
attractive for firewall upgrades, but we will explore alternatives for wireless controllers. I will continue to monitor storage solutions as we near time to upgrade that as well.

Scratch Programming

Author name: Tammy Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library
Date of program: 10/21/2015

Description of Activities:
Used the Scratch program that was on the laptops and walked the students through Getting started with Scratch from the Scratch user's guide. The students wrote code to make scratch dance, added sound effects and changed the background. The students were then given time to design their own program. This program was held Oct. 21 for the children and Oct. 22 for the teens.

Kids Are Customers, Too

Author Name: Aimee Rutt
Library System: Washington County Free Library
Event Title: Kids Are Customers, Too- October 15, 2015

Top 3 things learned:
This was a fantastic presentation that showed off the unique idea of an all dance and movement based story time session. The presenter outlined how she conducts her programs, and provided us with song ideas and a basic outline for how we could do our own Bibliobop story time! I like the concept of this
program very much!

2. Introducing Technology to Children and Families
The opening presentation was done by Tanya Baronti of the Fred Rogers Centre, and the primary focus was on technology and how it can be used effectively in kid's lives. She taught us the importance of introducing children to technology, and how we could distinguish between effective use or frivolous use. She also taught us the importance of an adults role in their child's use of technology. Parents should be aware of how their children are using technology and what they are doing online, and should also teach their children (by example) of appropriate uses of technology and appropriate online behavior.

3. The lengthy process that goes in to writing and illustrating a children's book AND the importance of bilingual children's books. Spanish American children's author Lulu Delacre gave a presentation, and went in-depth about all of the steps that she took to write her most recent children's book (to be released in 2016). She took us on a journey that expanded from her initial idea for the book all the way to the final steps in preparation for publication! She also talked about how her book was written
in both English and Spanish, which I thought was very awesome because it makes it so special and diverse!

How to implement:

  • I will do some research to plan my own Bibliobop/movement based story time.I thought this was a wonderful idea because it gives kids an opportunity to experience a different type of story time, and also helps them get active while still having fun. I plan to use both new and old songs, and may even try to implement some of my childhood favorites.
  • Author LuLu Delacre inspired me to look for more diverse books to implement in to my storytimes. This will help the kids be exposed to new and different cultures, and will also meet the needs of the different groups of children that come to storytime.
  • I will try and implement more technology in my children's programs in the future as a learning tool for the kids.

Children's Interest Group Fall 2015 Meeting

Author Name: Aimee Rutt
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:
1. I really enjoyed learning about the different story time books and strategies that are used by my colleagues. It was very interesting to learn about what has worked for them and what their patrons enjoy.

2. I enjoyed learning about the Playaway Launchpad! I feel like that will be a very useful tool for our young patrons, and will be an effective way to introduce technology in to their lives.

3. I thought that the "500 by Five" presentation was wonderful! There are so many great things about that program! I love how it not only motivates kids to read, but makes them excited to do so! I would love to see how our patrons would respond if we were to introduce this program in our library system!

How to implement:
1. I will try and implement some of the strategies and books that were introduced by my colleagues in future story times to see how my patrons respond.

2. Whether or not our library system chooses to add the Playaway Launchpads to our collection, I will become more familiar with all of the educational apps that are out there for children.

3. I will teach children and families the importance of reading every chance I get. I will also make sure to read to my own children every night and always have books available to them when I become a parent.

Lead the Change: Transform Your Stack to Drive Circulation

Author Name: Ashley Swinford
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems

Learning Event website:

Top 3 things learned:

  • A library's brand is reading.
  • Less people are discovering what to read from browsing a bricks and mortar bookstore
  • Libraries are highly trusted
  • There is a huge opportunity to bridge the gap and be the trusted place that people browse and discover what to read next

How to implement: 
Our library plans to reflect and design a plan to organize our displays so that they draw patrons back into the stacks, not simply sticking to the front to browse new titles. We also plan to create book
talkers for the stacks to point out some appeal factors and read-a-likes for unknown titles and authors.
Additional learning: We also learned about how to create self-directed pathways through the library as well as the use of social media, email, and bloggers to build our brand.

Lead the Change: Increase Circulation in the Stacks

Author Name: Elizabeth Sell
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems

Top 3 things learned:

  • What a 'Walking Path" is and how to set it up in your library.
  • Made a 'Display Plan' for my library.
  • What a 'Shelf Talker' is and how they can be helpful.

How to implement:
We discussed how just changing where you put things in the library can pull patrons further in which in turn can boost circulation. Changing book displays more often can help patrons find things of interest which they may not have seen otherwise. Placing 'Shelf talkers' in stacks , which can be used to promote read-alikes, give patrons little blurbs using appeal terms to create interest.

Code in Libraries: STEM Kids: Electrical Circuits

Author name: Julie Iden
Library System: Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County
Date of program: 09/16/2015
Title of Program: STEM Kids- Electrical Circuits

Description of Activities:
I started off the program with a power point presentation on electrical circuits. We discussed electricity, conductors, insulators, the flow of electricity through a circuit, series circuits, and parallel circuits. We used an energy ball to demonstrate electrical circuits. This was not included in our coding kits, but it would make a nice addition to your kit. When you touch the ball's metal strips, the ball lights up and creates sound. We made predictions on whether or not electricity would flow through the human body. We kept adding kids to our human circuit until all fourteen kids were
included in our circuit. If someone broke the connection by letting go of their hands, the ball would stop lighting up and making sounds.

We then divided into two groups. Half of the kids worked independently using the Snap Circuits Jr's. I purchased additional Snap Circuits Jr. kits, so we have a total of five. The children worked in groups of two, and that worked out well. They enjoyed working through the projects in the project guide that came in each Snap Circuits Jr. kit. Some of the older children skipped ahead to more challenging projects. Each group was successful in completing circuits to make lights and sounds and even a flying saucer.

I worked with the other half of the group making squishy circuits. They were able to complete both series and parallel circuits. We had trouble with a few LED's burning up. We were told not to attach the LED's directly to the batteries, and I think that that the LED wires were touching the wires coming from the batteries inside of the play dough. My son said that we needed resistors, but I'm not sure how that would work.

STEM Kids is an hour and a half long, once a month program for children ages 6-13 at the Ruth Enlow Library in Oakland. By using the squishy circuits and the Snap Circuits Jr's. from the coding kit, the children were able to learn a lot about electrical circuits. They were given the opportunity to create many different circuits using several different materials. I liked that they were able to make their own discoveries using the provided materials. The program worked well for both the younger and the older children.

Event Photos:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Harwood Institute Public Innovators Lab

Detroit, MI
Oct 14-16, 2015

The Harwood Institute has partnered with the American Library Association and the Gate's Libraries Transforming Communities initiative to provide training and tools to help libraries bring positive change to their communities. The Lab was an intense 2 1/2 day training in the Harwood methodology for becoming public innovators.

There are five key areas of the method:
1. Turning Outward
Turning outward makes the community the reference point for everything we do.

2. Understanding My Community
Gaining an understanding of the community and uncovering the underlying issues is found through public knowledge (what everyone knows) as opposed to expert knowledge (what I think is best). Asking the right questions can lead to a deep understanding of shared aspirations and the barriers standing in the way of realizing those aspirations. By sharing your knowledge, you build ownership and allies.

3. Creating Conditions for Change and Aspirations
As you work toward addressing the issues, it is important to identify the stage of the community and its implication for effective action. Communities can generally be grouping into five, often overlapping stages. Trying to do too much too soon is doomed to failure and setback.

4. Deciding on the Right Path
Identify your sphere of influence, and choose the best path to ensure a win.

5. Commitment
Understand your own needs, and make the commitment to stay true to yourself, to take care of yourself, and to identify support for yourself as you do this work.

We (WCFL) have conducted a few community conversations, but previously we were asking what the community would like from the library. This was the wrong question. We will start again by asking "What kind of community do you want?". One thing I realized was that it didn't matter what community the person you are asking has in mind- the attributes of the 'work' community or the 'neighborhood' community or the 'where I live' community were fundamentally the same.  I can see where small changes could have a large ripple effect throughout the community.  We will begin by conducting community conversations with library staff. Hopefully, this will get us off to a positive start.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cybersecurity Workshop

The ACLS staff was fortunate to be able to attend a workshop dealing with Cybersecurity this morning.  It was presented by Mr. Biser who is a Certified Ethical Hacker.  That means he knows how to get into your computer and take information out of it. Luckily, he works for the police and is on the good side of the hacker world.  He was able to put a little fear into me and my colleagues by letting us know how easy it is for hackers to breach our private computers.  We learned ways to keep our information safe. Some easy ways are to have passwords that are hard to break, and to not download items or click links sent in emails from people we don't know.  I teach computer classes at South Cumberland Library, and I will pass on this information to my students so they can keep safe also.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

CONTENTdm Users Group, Nashville, August 2015

Jill Craig, Western Maryland Regional Library.

Making Maps with the CONTENTdm API, Marcus Ladd, Miami University of Ohio
This was a session on how to build a map of a geographically-oriented collection in CONTENTdm with publicly available PHP and Javascript resources. 

Marcus had a postcard collection of cards from Ohio. His code, which he shared on github,, uses the address of the image from his CONTENTdm url and that links to an sql table using javascript. This way CONTENTdm api harvests the data and Google maps creates a map using the address to create coordinates. Marcus has additional steps as he described the application as “buggy”. Miami University, Ohio, Bowden Postcards Collection

The question I would have is whether this program would work with our data which does not contain recognizable street addresses. The Confederate dead were buried in locations like “Mrs. Lucketts barn”. In that case I would need to create the lat/long myself, add to the CONTENTdm database  and then use the google api.  There are several other applications where pinpointing the location will be helpful.

Introduction Data Cleaning and Preservation, Morgan Daniels, Vanderbilt University
My need to clean up data is much less than Tracy’s but I can still see a use for OpenRefine ( ), OpenRefine is an open source application that runs through Google.  It adds power to the kinds of  things I have been doing in Excel and makes decisions for you, so instead of having to sort a field, see what the options are, select which is correct, and then search and replace. It would replace all variants for “Hagerstown” for example with the most commonly used term.  I would need to be cautious in using with names that may have been correct at some point, like “Hagers-town” and “Boonesborough” – transcription spellings are unique
and their spellings are unique

CONTENTdm Users Group, Goucher College, May 2015

Jill Craig, Western Maryland Regional Library.

CONTENTdm Users Group, Goucher College, May 2015

Jennifer K. Galas, University of Scranton

She described a campus with many potential data collectors but no simple way for them to add to a database. They could benefit from the diverse knowledge of the staff and inspire everyone to become a content creator.

Jennifer created a google spreadsheet available on the web for faculty and students to input. Then she utilized two javascripts - Tabletop.js and handlebars.js to create custom scripts.
The result is a collection which includes pages like Gannon Hall, University of Scranton 
She also used mapsheet.js which would be worth investigating to see if it is better than other mapping scripts.

I can see a non-centralized data entry system making it easier for data to be entered in our various libraries or counties. 

Working with Text and PDFs – Geri Ingram
Users expect full-text search-ability across the repository, but will also expect the data to be linked. Linked data will eventually provide the engine for new knowledge creation, for Washington County’s data on Antietam to, in Geri’s term, “become visible in the web-of-things” through worldcat and dpla.

Geri suggested using the metadata templates at page level; compound object level and for PDFs. On the Website Configtool: to suppress display of components of compound objects in search results, which would mean a search would find a word in a compound object and not pull up every single page. This is done by selecting pagetype = PDF 

Materials commonly assembled as compound objects would be Yearbooks, Papers, Postcards, Books.
Metadata can be at a page-level or object level.

I need to try the post card option of a compound object for the postcards we have that have information on the back of the image.  

The State Library of North Carolina Digital Repository has some useful ideas to for making a site more usable and user-friendly. It is a site I will look at again when my backlog is reduced.

ContentDM Users Group 2015 @ Nashville Public Library

ContentDM Users Group 2015 @ Nashville Public Library
Author Name: Tracy Carroll
Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library
Date: August 6-7, 2015
Learning Event website:

Top 3 things learned:
1. How to Clean up data using OpenRefine
2. How to make maps pinpoints using a Google and a ContentDM API
3. How to properly save images in ContentDM.

How to implement:
  1. OpenRefine can be used to clean up data that we've inherited or data that we've received and would like to use on Whilbr but we need to clean the data to store it in ContentDM.  Bad data makes it harder to search and find what you're looking for when you're searching a database.  An example of something we consistently run in to, we may have a spreadsheet and in one field there is data that is inconsistent.  It may say "Street", "St.", "street", "st", not because it's wrong but because different people entered the data and now the data is inconsistent.  OpenRefine will let us clean up all of the records so that they all say "Street" or "street" or whatever we decide all of the records will show.  Previously we would do a find and replace several times until everything is consistent.  OpenRefine groups and counts the records so it will show you that you have 100 "Street"s and 200 "St"s and you can replace all 300 records in seconds.  Win!  This is such a huge deal for us because sometimes we can spend hours or days cleaning up data.  OpenRefine where have you been all of my life?! lol. 
  2. The session "Making Maps with the CONTENTdm API" used code for mapping that can be used where we'd like to provide some interaction for a collection.  On the old Whilbr website there is a flash application of the Confederate Dead buried at Antietam that is one of our most popular collections.  The collection is great, but with wider use of mobile devices, part of the collection that uses a map of the burial sites can't be viewed on devices that don't support flash.  We could take the data from this collection and use this new code to build an interface that would work on all devices.  
  3.  In "Behind the Scenes of Image Storage & Retrieval in CONTENTdm" there were tips for how to save and store images in a format that displays best in ContentDM.  The presenter gave recommendations on standards for saving and storing images and showing how they are changed and modified through ContentDM.  They were good reminders for what looks best inside of ContentDM.  We currently have a great standard for saving and uploading images in our ContentDM, but this provided a good reminder.  She also went through in great detail what happens to the images inside of ContentDM based on what the original file type.

Additional learning:  While ContentDM continues to create their mobile platform for current sites, we did learn that we can keep track of what is happening with their mobile version at: They are still developing a few things that aren't functioning, like Compound Objects, but providing us with the link is helpful to be able to see what's happening with it.  There currently is no timeline for release but we are hopeful that it will be sometime in 2016.

Coding in Libraries Sharing at Branch Meeting

Authors' names: Tammy Gantz and Jennifer Ross
Library System: Washington County Free Library
Date of program: 08/31/2015

Description of Activities:

Jennifer Ross and I presented the Coding in Libraries box to branch employees. We gave a quick overview of the items available in the box and then presented Squishy Circuits in detail. We showed the branch members what a program with Squishy Circuits might look like. They used the LEDs, batteries, play doh and clay. They created a series circuit and a parallel circuit. We also talked about electricity safety. Hopefully branch members will offer this program at their branches.

Digi-Spaces-Coding with the Raspberry Pi

Author name: Cyndi Powell
Library System: Washington County Free Library
Date of program: 08/13/2015

Digi-Spaces-Coding with the Raspberry Pi

Description of Activities: 

At the start of the program, I explained what a Raspberry Pi is and gave examples of what it is used for and the types of things that it is capable of being turned into. For example, how security system, used by hobbyists and inventors, micro-computer...these were some of the things I talked about. I showed the teens the different plug-ins and hooked it up to a keyboard, mouse and projector screen.

Most of the program was an introduction to coding with the program Python, which is already pre-loaded on the Raspberry Pi. I followed an activity found in the book called "Raspberry Pi Projects" by Andrew Robinson from Chapter 2 called "Generating an Insult". I found this to be a good introductory project because the coding language was simple and it was a short series of commands. I led them through the project, typing in the code, showing them how the program worked, talking about the different commands, the different screens and how the program can easily be modified.

Then I gave them a project to follow that I found in a book called "Help your kids with computer coding : a unique step-by-step visual guide, from binary code to building games" by Carol Vorderman. We followed Program #4 "Ghost Game". I let the teens follow the instructions for writing the code. We ran their program and played the game. Then we looked further through the second book at the explanations of what it is we did when we wrote the coding. This book is a great resource and explains everything in a clear, user friendly language and it's a visual guide which is great too!

The last 10-15 minutes of the program, the teens were experimenting and modifying the Ghost Game
program. Adding more doors, ghosts and commands. It was great to see them apply the knowledge they had learned from the exercises we did and start to explore the different
possibilities in coding!

OverDrive Digitpalooza 2015

Author Name: Christopher McGee
Library System: Allegany County Library Systems
Learning Event website:

Top 3 things learned:

1. Libraries must realize "books are not the product. Reading is the product." (Andrew Richard
Albanese - Publishers Weekly.) This was a major theme for the event. Libraries should support and encourage reading. eBooks are not a challenge to our traditional services. Rather, they are a tool for
promoting those services by making reading convenient and accessible for some audiences.

2. eBooks offer libraries the chance to reach new audiences, like professional men ages 30-60. Libraries have to challenge themselves to develop promotional tools to reach this audience. One library used "Digital Bookshelf" posters in prominent public spaces. Another created digital library cards that could be signed up for online. (Verification of address, etc. was achieved by mailing a registration number to the patron's home address. The patron has to return the number to the library via e-mail to keep the account from expiring.) In various ways, library staff worked to curate and promote their eBook and eAudiobooks just as they would their print materials, not as a collection itself but as specific items in their collection.

3. OverDrive will be launch a new web interface this fall that will be cleaner and nicer, but more importantly, it will have behind-the-scenes features that make browsing and searching much, much faster. How to implement: Library staff can not think of eBooks and other digital content as "technology" that can be relegated to staff members who identify or have been identified as the techies at their branch or in their system. eBooks and eAudiobooks are BOOKS. The technology is getting easier and isn't really the focus anymore. The content is the focus now. Print books,
eBooks, apps, browsers, etc. are merely the delivery tools for the content. Staff need to remember to offer customer service by staying abreast of what's available, what a particular patron's reading interests are, and how patron can get desired material in the format that's best and most convenient for them. We need to encourage library staff to see electronic content in this way.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Google Guides: Gmail, Drive, and Calendar

Allegany County Library System recently requested that I create a few quick guides to help their staff orient themselves to the world of Google Apps and I thought I would share the finished products here in case anyone else is interested in getting started with Google or learning more about what Google can do for you. Click below to view and download the PDFs. 

Gmail Quick-Guide. 

Google Calendar Quick-Guide.

Google Drive Quick-Guide. 

ALA Annual Conference 2015

Author Name: Elizabeth Hulett
Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library

Top 3 things learned:

I attended several different sessions at the ALA Conference in June 2015 including once called No Sugarcoating Allowed: Four Honest Perspectives on Change Management. From this session I learned that there are several stages that people go through during change and one of them is grieving. Many people feel they are losing something when things change and those feelings need to be acknowledged and respected. It is also crucial to keep people well informed during the change process so they feel included and feel that their opinions are being heard. Also, expect problems and setbacks and be prepared for them. Those managing the change should also not take everything on themselves. Delegation of tasks will not only lead to buy-in from the staff, but will also relieve some
of the stress brought on by the changes.

How to implement: 

If a major change were to take place in my organization I would make sure to keep all staff informed about the reason for the change, what the steps are going to be to achieve the change and what is the
envisioned result.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gmail on iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPads

If you don't want to download the Gmail app and would prefer to just use the default mail app that comes with iOS devices, here's a video that shows you how to do just that:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Awesome Onboarding: A Preconference at ALA 2015

Why I attended the preconference, Awesome Onboarding:

  • I'm working with 3 WMRL staff and the WCFL supervisors including the WMRL Associate Director and the WCFL Assistant Director to develop a standardized, consistent onboarding process for WCFL staff. We are in the early stages which means we have had 2 meetings and are currently in the process of discovering what each supervisor/department is already doing in order to identify overlap and gaps.
  • I've never developed (nor experienced) a standardized/structured onboarding process before and even though I have a lot of resources to reference just within the state of MD, I wanted to hear what has worked for others including such large corporations as LinkedIn - in order to get inspiration and to be able to inspire others.

According to Steve Weitz from LinkedIn, orientation is:

  • An event.
    • For example, New Hire Orientation! Next Monday from 9am-12pm in the WMRL conference room!
  • Information that is shared is to be downloaded by the new hire for navigation purposes.
    • For example, Where's the bathroom? When is payday? How do I check email?
  • Information that is shared covers Compliance and HR.
    • For example, Do I get health insurance? What's covered? How much vacation/sick/personal leave do I get?
  • Typically, the information is delivered in a classroom style environment, sage-on-the-stage style.

Whereas, onboarding is:

  • A process that spans several months (ideally, 12 months).
  • The employer/supervisor & employee discuss together: How can we partner to make both your career and our organization successful?
  • This experience is customized by role.
  • The process emphasizes empowering employees to connect with others.
  • Promotes quick and focused productivity.

The challenge is how to separate the two, because, yes, they should be separated. One powerful way to do this is to share information with the employee before his or her first day on site. Snail mail or better yet, email them the health insurance plans, the employee handbook, their account info (email address and how to access), etc. According to me, it would be a good idea to have a self-directed (asynchronous) pre-boarding course available to new hires for them to complete on their own time before the first day on site.

Exploring Out of This World Presentation Tools, Tips, and Techniques

Author Name: Tammy L. Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:

  • Best practices for presenting.
  • Powerpont do's and don'ts
  • Tools and techniques for presentations
  • Virtual presentation.

How to implement:
The best practices included an introduction and a little story, knowing your
audience, testing the technology and rehearsing.
For the Powerpoint do's and don'ts they suggested having an organized
structure, simple design, real images over clipart, do not read the slides
and work on stage presence.
Tools and techniques included Google Slides, Haiku Deck, Prezi and

Additional learning: 
Investigate some of the tools listed.

Stem Programming for Preschoolers

Author Name: Tammy Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:

  • Science is a way of thinking.
  • Tech is a way of doing.
  • Engineering is a way of doing.
  • Math is a way of measuring.

How to implement: 
Problem solving path - what is the problem?, Brainstorming
ideas, which idea is the best? Let's try that! Did it work? Let's share it
with everyone.

Additional learning: 
I was disappointed in this class. The hands on
activities that we tried were all well known science concepts.

Bring Out Your Dead!

Author Name: Tammy Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:

  • Many published family histories are available containing information that is no longer available, photographs, and clues.
  • Destination libraries have unique resources and are unique. Patrons come to them.
  • FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world.

How to implement: Know how to find these family history books to help patrons
working in genealogy.

Additional learning:

30th Annual Children's Literature Conference Shenandoah University

Author Name: Jeff Ridgeway
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned: 
I met and talked with 4 Newbery Medal Winners (Kwame
Alexander, Patricia MacLachlan, Karen Cushman, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor) , 1
Pura Belpre' winner (Meg Medina), 2 Newbery Honor winner (Steve Sheinkin,
Tanya Lee Stone), this year's Margaret Edwards award winner (Sharon Draper),
several Caldecott Honorees (Aaron Reynolds, Peter Brown, Mac Barnett, Raul
Colon) and other published children's authors. I learned from them about
their backgrounds, their passion for children's literature, how they found
what to write about, how a book goes from being an idea into being a tangible
thing, how the artists produced their picture books, and why we should make
read aloud sessions and readers' advisory skills primary facets of children's
library services. I also learned several teaching strategies that enable
kids to express how they feel and interpret children's stories. I attended a
session entitled "Best Bets for the Classroom" that gave me lists of books to
consider for collection development. I also attended a session facilitated
by the Handley Public Library to see what that library was offering children
this summer in their Summer Reading Club.

How to implement: 
Implementing what I learned involves using the books
written and illustrated by the authors/illustrators who were featured at the
conference and attempting to transfer their enthusiasm and knowledge about
their topics into my story times and in working with parents. I will also be
checking our shelf lists to see which of the authors' books we have that are
available for checkout. I am thinking about how I can create a read aloud
session for older children that will resonate with them beyond the actual
story reading time. I am planning on writing a paper to be submitted for a
grade and would like to use the research for a library program.

Additional learning: 
A conference of this type goes far beyond tangible
benefits--the authors presentations were wonderful in that they were able to
convey a sense of themselves to the audience to the extent that we could see
why they became authors/illustrators and why they became so fascinated with
the things that they wrote/ illustrated. I was also able to network with
other professionals who love books and reading as much as I do. It gave me a
sense that there is a community of readers who appreciate children's books
and who want to do what they can to communicate that excitement to their
students/ public.

ContentDM Users Group 2015 @ Goucher College

Author Name: Tracy Carroll
Library System: Western Maryland Regional Library
Learning Event website:

Top 3 things learned:
1. How to input data into ContentDM using a Google Worksheet
2. How to add funnels into reporting for Google Anayltics
3. When importing data from old WHILBR into Digital Whilbr, how to add extra
fields in ContentDM to keep track of the old record IDs.
4. How to add longitude an latitude to ContentDM and use it to plot data on a
Google Map

How to implement:
1. While we don't have to use Google Worksheets, we can use Excel to do the
same thing simply by adding a few javascript files.
2. By adding funnels in Google Analytics we can build reports for a specific
collection to see clearly the activity it is generating.
3. By adding an additional field on the collection table in ContentDM, we can
programmatically point users to the new record on the ContentDM website.
4. By adding an additional field on the collection table in ContentDM we can
programmatically plot locations using Google maps.

Additional learning: I also learned about some additional open source
resources that will allow us make the front page look nicer. Also, we went
through some of the XML coding and learning how to edit TMX files.

Beyond Book Groups: Fun Library Programs for Adult Readers

Author Name: Tammy Gantz
Library System: Washington County Free Library

Top 3 things learned:
Ideas were given about adult programming which included:

  • Hosting book clubs at bars using edgier titles or a book club on a ferry.
  • Book-to-Action events where you read a book about an issue, have a speaker, and then do a service project.
  • Literary pub trivia events.
  • Murder mystery night which you host at the library after hours.
  • Story nights - participants tell a true story, five minutes or less, relates to a theme. (usually have at a bar)
  • Speed dating for book lovers where they share a book.

How to implement: To implement some of these ideas one would need to research
a bar/restaurant that was willing to be a partner. Research would have to be
completed to set up a murder mystery night or questions researched for the
literary trivia night.

Additional learning: Even though they stated it was a lot of work I would
like to learn additional information about the murder mystery night.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

DrupalCon 2015 - Los Angeles

DrupalCon 2015
DrupalCon 2015, Los Angeles, CA
May 11-15, 2015

DrupalCon is a global conference where thousands of Drupal developers, system engineers, designers, project managers, functional analysts, documentation specialists, media, and business people gather to participate in learning sessions, talks, code sprints, and social events.  There were people from over 50 countries represented this year!

The customary Drupal photo of the attendees.

There were several workshops and sessions available but these were a few of my top picks:

- Defense in Depth: Lessons learned securing 100,000 Drupal Sites -
with With Cellar Door, Nstielau and Geetarluke (Drupal users names)

It was a timely message as recently I had one of my sites hacked so these were key things that I learned to do:
  1. Have the CIA security triad in place - Confidentiality , Integrity, Availability (confidentiality is a set of rules that limits access to information, integrity is the assurance that the information is trustworthy and accurate, and availability is a guarantee of reliable access to the information by authorized people.)  None of my sites provide confidential information, but it was good to be a aware of what to have in place.
  2. Defense in depth (proactive defense is better than reactive defense when it comes to security)
  3. Update security (regularly, don’t ignore messages to update security)
  4. Back up your data (regularly, if you have backed up your data it is easier to restore the last good version before the data invasion.)
  5. Use GIT to know what your code has done (this is a module that records changes that happen within the Drupal site.
  6. Use secure passwords (complex passwords are more secure than simple passwords.
There are great tools and modules that I can apply to my current sites to make sure that my sites are secure and to also ensure that if a site is hacked again, I will have things in place to help me recover and also be able to identify what and/or how it happened.

My favorite shirt for the
conference! :)

- Ballin' on a Budget: How to Create Great Design Without Breaking the Bank- with Josh Riggs, Senior Lead UX Designer @ThinkShout

Because we love FREE at libraries, this was also a great session with lots of takeaways:
  1. Design tips - Sort order is important when it comes to responsive design.  I'm building building more Drupal sites using responsive design and the order of the page really does matter.  If it's not in order, it will display incorrectly on small devices.  Something that I've noticed, but never really knew why.  It's starts with building it better.
  2. Documentation - Always important for someone coming in behind you to know.  I do document on my code, but I could be more diligent about it when I do.  Sometimes I make a correction for whatever reason and don't always document the "why".  I will be better about that in the future.
  3. FREE stuff - There are lots of free sites available to you if you need it but these are a few that I will be looking in to:
Putting my feet in the Pacific Ocean
(because I couldn't travel that far and not!)
I stayed at the
Historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel
which hosted the 1941 Academy Awards

Overall it was a great trip with lots of information.  I always come away from these events with information overload and so many things that I want to apply to my websites.  Of course it always looks great when someone else does it, but applying it to your own site doesn't always work out the same.  But overall, the Drupal community is great at helping each other out.  One of the BOF (birds of a feather) sessions was for "Drupal for Libraries".  It was a time to converse with other Drupal Library users to ask questions and see what everyone else is doing.  Most of the conversation was for academic libraries, but I did find out about the Drupal users listserv group for libraries and got added to the list so I look forward to getting feedback from other Drupal Library users. 

Los Angeles Public Library, Downtown