Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rapid City Public Libraries: Let patrons take eReaders for a test drive

It's time to check in with another winner of this year's Digital Library Champions contest! Since August, we've been highlighting winners and their success stories through a series of Librarian's Share blog posts. This week, we feature the winner of the "Test Drive" category, Rapid City Public Library in South Dakota, as written by their Public Services Library Associate Sam Solcum.


The Rapid City Public Libraries take pride in providing our patrons with hands-on eReader experiences. We have been actively using unique marketing strategies to promote our OverDrive digital collection. The libraries have seen a huge increase in demand for downloadable materials – over the 2012 year we saw an increase in circulation of electronic materials of 122%, and 2013 is on track to break that record!

Our patrons love mobility, so we're making our eBooks easier to find than ever by promoting our downloadable collection in creative, innovative and effective ways. The Rapid City Public Libraries are raising awareness for our OverDrive collection by giving our eBooks a physical presence in the libraries. We've also been marketing our digital services on our website and social media sites, at community outreach events, during staff trainings, on billboards, in clever library displays and with our 2013 OverDrive Digital Champions Award-Winning Test Drive program.

TCPL_test-drive1Before beginning the Test Drive program, the Rapid City Public Libraries expanded their downloadable collection, held staff training and patron drop-in clinics, and increased access to downloadables both in the library and on our website.

To better serve our patrons and attract new users, the library embarked on a new project. A major marketing effort went underway to introduce the Test Drive program with digital displays, handouts and newspaper articles. For those patrons who are still on the fence about purchasing an eReader, this program is perfect. In order to help them make an informed decision, eReader lending was launched in June 2012. Patrons can check out an eReader to test in the comfort of their own home for a two-week “test drive.” Each eReader comes in a canvas library bag with a charger, stylus, charging cable, directions, start-up guide and a survey to fill out when returned.

The Rapid City Public Libraries also offer a homebound delivery service, in which patrons who are unable to travel to the library can have library materials delivered to their homes, including our Sony eReaders from the Test Drive program.

For our patrons that have never downloaded or read an electronic book, our E-Reader Guide helps them through the process. If patrons would like some more hands-on time with a variety of devices, the Rapid City Public Libraries also have “petting zoos,” where patrons can experiment with different tablets and eReaders.

Inside the library, the staff created Shelf Peekers, which interfile with the books on the shelf. The Shelf Peekers are just one way we provide a visual representation of the many titles available in our eBook collection. A QR code printed on each Shelf Peeker links directly to the Overdrive catalog for instant and convenient downloading. We also place, "Available in eBook Format!" stickers on the book covers of titles that the library owns in both print and eBook format. Our grab and go QR cards are basically a business card for a book, which includes a QR code that links to the OverDrive download page for that specific title.

TCPL_test-drive3We provide hands-on training for our patrons at Drop-In eReader Clinics. Library staff encourages patrons to bring in their devices, laptops and account login information. Librarians then help attendees learn how to download library materials from OverDrive. We provide a supply of handouts which give step-by-step instructions for the patrons to take home with them. The program has evolved into a Drop-In style event where patrons can casually stop by with their questions about any mobile device and receive one-on-one help. From December 2011 through January 2013, we held 13 drop-in clinics with a total of 397 patrons in attendance.

Our downloadables are highlighted on our major social networking pages. Our Pinterest board, Downloadable Digital Vacations, spotlights downloadable eBooks, provides a little reader's advisory, and directly links to our downloadable catalog.

These are just a few ways we are making the digital library experience more streamlined and accessible. After planning, testing and implementing these programs, we are now serving more online patrons than ever, and more efficiently.


Sam Slocum is a Public Services Library Associate at Rapid City Public Libraries in South Dakota, winner of the Test Drive category in the 2013 Digital Library Champions contest.

Tips for Making (And Keeping) Resolutions this January

Making any resolutions this New Year's eve? Check out these tips to help turn your resolution into reality in 2014.

Free Children’s Enhanced Shrek Forever After eBook from iStoryTime


As part of the holiday recognition of their customers, a number of companies are offering their users free content in this post-holiday period when many users may have received new devices. Apps likes Apple’s 12 Days of Gifts offer everything from free songs to free ebooks via the iTunes store.

One company that has extended the free gift period is children’s ebook app developer iStoryTime. The zuuka-owned platform has produced a number of major titles for companies like Dreamworks, including Kung Fu Panda, The Smurfs, The Penguins of Madagascar, and more.

Today only, and only available with this code from Good e-Reader, iStoryTime is offering enhanced ebook of Shrek Forever After, the most recent installment about the world’s most beloved ogre.

“Burdened by responsibility and trapped by routine, this ogre has lost his roar. In order to recapture his past as a real ogre, Shrek is tricked into striking a bargain with Rumpelstiltskin, trading a day from his life as part of the deal. But the fine print of the contract lands him in an alternate universe where he's feared, all right, but he's also never rescued Fiona or met Donkey, Puss in Boots, Gingy and all his fairytale friends. Now, to get back to reality and his family, Shrek has to find Fiona and defeat the devious Rumpelstiltskin before the deal expires.”

To claim a copy of the book for iOS, go to the title’s landing page in the app store and enter the code CANDYCANE under the Use Storycode button. The title can be found by clicking HERE.

Free Children’s Enhanced Shrek Forever After eBook from iStoryTime is a post from: E-Reader News

NOOBS v1.3.3 available

If you got a Raspberry Pi for Christmas, check out this post for some suggestions on how to get started.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the NOOBS minor revision number on the downloads page crept up by one at the end of the day on Christmas Eve. This release incorporates updated versions of Arch, Raspbian and Raspbmc.

Check out the release notes for each distribution for more details. Highlights for Raspbian include:

  • New firmware and 3.10 kernel, with numerous functionality improvements.
  • New hardware-accelerated X driver included and enabled by default.
  • Mathematica and the Wolfram Language installed by default.
  • Updated Scratch image.
  • PyPy 2.2, with incremental garbage collection.
  • Our new V4L2 camera driver, and an updated v4l-utils package.

Thanks to Dom Cobley (for firmware and kernel), Maciej Fijalkowski and Armin Rigo (for PyPy), Tim Rowledge (for Scratch), Vincent Sanders, Luke Diamand, David Stevenson, Tim Gover and Simon Mellor (for V4L2), Alex Newman and the Wolfram Research team (for Mathematica), Siarhei Siamashka and the fbturbo team (for X), Dave Higham (for Arch), Alex Bradbury and Peter Green (for Raspbian) and Sam Nazarko (for Raspbmc).

This release was coordinated by Andrew Scheller, who will be handling NOOBS releasing from now on.

Experts Warn Strict Parental Control Needed for Kids Tablet Usage

kid tablet usage

One of the reasons that have contributed to the stellar growth of tablet devices has been their ease of use, something exemplified no better than the way kids aged even three year olds have taken to using them with élan. However, notwithstanding the great publicity that this would make for technology or the way it can help improve our lives, experts are wary of the negative effects it might have on the minds of the little ones. Some pediatricians have raised concerns that kids can have better brain development from time spent with non-electronic toys or from interacting with adults than fiddling with tablets. On the contrary, too much time spent using the tablet has often been linked to behavioral or social issues.

However, as per Dr. Dimitri Christakis, serving pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital, the above is more applicable if the child is spending too much time watching videos and such and the result would be just the same as watching a TV. However, he did mention engaging in educational games and puzzles do have a positive impact on the child’s brain development. To make things simpler for parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics has even gone on to specify a daily tablet usage limit of 2 hours at the most as anything more than that could have an adverse impact on their normal activities, which includes sleeping, playing and such. Not to mention the most vital of them all, interacting with adults which initiate the language learning process along with other mannerisms that they learn from seeing others.

Experts have sounded the same word of caution among slightly older children as too much time spent with tablet devices means they are spending less time interacting with other children. As such, they loose out on honing social interactivity skills like, making friends and so on. As Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood likes to point out, “The best toys are the ones that just lie there until the child transforms them,” which rules out electronic items that can be run by pushing a button or via taps and swipes.

However, there are also those who would like children to be exposed to the new age devices such as tablets arguing they will feel more at-home when they reach classroom when allowed to use tablet like devices at an early age. This they claim is vital considering the increasing use of technology in today’s classroom to impart education. That said, they’d also like to point out its important to strike a balance so as not to make kids too much dependent on tablet while also ensuring not to keep them alienated of the hottest new developments that has otherwise permeated deep into our lifestyles.

As has been pointed out by the father of a 5 year old how his child benefited from the use of an iPad. “He had an iPad at close to 18 months so he was definitely one of those babies swiping away in his stroller.

“Now it’s different, but back then we were a little ostracized. Now he’s reading at close to a second-grade reading level and I credit a lot of that to iPad apps.”

Experts have also pointed out that with tablet devices entering mainstream segment just 3 years ago, it’s too early to have a clear idea of the impact that such devices may have on the growing minds. However, what seems to be the best option in such a scenario is to strike the right balance: allowing kids to grow up in the traditional manner while also allowing them limited exposure to technology to keep them updated of the latest developments. Tablet devices can be a great learning tool but has to be used just right.

Experts Warn Strict Parental Control Needed for Kids Tablet Usage is a post from: E-Reader News

Dinner at Hogwarts: Recreating delicious dishes from your favorite novels

I am an avid reader of cookbooks. I enjoy trying new recipes and making dishes from different cultures and styles of cooking. When reading a cookbook, I always try to consider the time commitment for each dish and whether the ingredient list is easily accessible (Do I want to travel to an exotic locale for a spice?). Each of these literary-inspired cookbooks contains recipes and references to dishes your favorite heroine/hero ate throughout the novel and an ingredient list that makes it possible in your own kitchen.


The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory- More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards (Dinah Buchotz)

Banana Fritters with Caramel Sauce (Ch. 8 Deserts and Snacks at School)

This recipe is on my to-make list. The idea of fried bananas paired with a homemade caramel sauce sounds delightful.


Once Upon a Time in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tales from Classic Children's Stories (Odell & Pignataro)

Bear Honey and Nut Spread (Breakfast Foods/Winnie-the-Pooh)

This recipe is quick and delicious. The ingredient list is simple: ½ cup chopped nuts (I used pecans but any will work), four tablespoons of honey and bread to spread it on. This would be an excellent recipe for little ones who want to help cook or a sweet treat with a cup of tea!


The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary's Crab Canapés to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding- More Than 150 Recipes From Upstairs and Downstairs (Emily Ansara Baines)

"Unsinkable" Cream of Barley Soup (Ch. 2 First and Second Courses: Soups and Fish)

A delicious soup course and a historical drama- As the title indicates, this cream of barley soup was served on the tragic and final evening of the Titanic's travels. I made this soup  and it did not disappoint.


The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to "Groosling"- More Than 150 Recipes Inspired by the Hunger Games Trilogy (Emily Ansara Baines)

Prim's Basil-Wrapped Goat Cheese Balls (Ch. 4 Humble Beginnings)

I think this would make a lovely appetizer!

The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew- More Than 150 Recipes from Westeros and Beyond (Alan Kistler)

Sansa's Strawberry Chiffon Pie (Ch. 6 Deceitful Delights: Desserts, Drinks, and "Poisonous" Cocktails)

The base for this pie is a graham cracker crust and a fresh strawberry filling. I think that a graham cracker crust is a bit simpler to make than the traditional dough crust.