New Tech in the Library

Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library, we have been able to replace some of the outdated technology in the library.

Monitors

If you have used any of our public computers in the last several years, you know that the square, analog monitors were not keeping pace with the way modern video and web content is displayed.  Some patrons also complained that the refresh rate was causing visible flickering on the screen.  We were able to replace all of the monitors at the public computers with digital, widescreen LED monitors.  In addition to improved display, these models are much more energy efficient than their predecessors.  This should save the library money in the long run.

Tech Cart in Meeting Rooms A and B

If you have recently attended a program in meeting rooms A and/or B that required A/V equipment, you may have noticed that the tech cart boasted an ancient LCD projector (for which they no longer make replacement bulbs) and a DVD/VCR combo.  The Friends helped us to purchase a new, more energy efficient DLP projector which projects a very clear image that can be seen on the wall at any lighting level.  We took this opportunity to replace the DVD/VCR with a Blu-ray player, which still supports DVDs.  Because the projector supports HDMI inputs, watching a Blu-ray using the projector is a much higher quality visual experience than watching a VHS tape with the old projector.  This should make the next movie festival much more enjoyable!

We hope you enjoy these improvements to the library.  What would you like to see next?  Let us know in the comments.

Device Chargers Have Arrived!

These days, we depend on our portable devices for just about everything.  When they get low on juice, panic sets in.  Even if you can find an outlet, do you have your charging cord?  You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this often happens to people at the library.  Now we have a solution!

Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library, we were able to purchase two device charging stations for the library that include charging cords that will fit most mainstream devices (Apple Lightning, Apple 30-pin, and MicroUSB).  If you have your own cord, you can also plug into a USB port or one of the additional electrical ports on the box.

If you would like to try out one of the device chargers, here is where you can find them…

Youth Services:

Charger on counter
Playroom in Youth Services

Adult Services (main area):

Device charger on laptop cart
Current location: laptop cart behind reference.
ASfuture
Future location: seating area near music

In the main area of the library, we were hoping to put the charger near the music area.  Unfortunately, we discovered that the outlet is dead.  Until we can get that fixed,  the charger temporarily lives on the laptop cart behind the reference desk.  [Update:  The charger is now located in the music area.]  As a reminder, please do not leave your device unattended while charging.  The library is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

We hope you find the new service useful.  Let us know what you think in the comments!

MakeUseOf Has the Answers to Questions You Didn’t Know You Had

makeuseofStaying current with IT news, trends, and tips is a fundamental part of my job in the library.  While I get this information from a variety of resources, there is one website that keeps surprising me with helpful information on a variety of subjects of interest to me and the patrons I assist.  I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to MakeUseOf, a free online resource with timely articles, reviews, and help guides for all things tech.  What really makes this resource shine is its ability to speak to both new and veteran users at the same time without confusing or boring either!

The home page at MakeUseOf displays headlines and teaser text for their most recent articles.  I find this layout somewhat chaotic, so I prefer to sort the articles by category before browsing.  Selecting “Topics” in the header menu will display the articles by category.  The “Answers” section leads to a user forum where registered members can ask and answer questions from the MakeUseOf community.  Check out the “Top List” section for “best of” lists for a variety of software and services on multiple platforms.  For in-depth technology guides, have a look at their “E-books” area.

As a registered user of MakeUseOf, you can earn points for sharing their content on social media, as well as participating in the forum, polls, and other activities.  Those points can be redeemed for rewards, such as entries in drawings for free hardware and software.  My favorite benefit of membership has been receiving the newsletter.  Each email has a few headlines with teaser text that can be easily scanned, with more information just a click away.  I have happened upon lots of very useful information in these newsletters that I didn’t even know I needed!  You can opt-in to the newsletter by selecting the social media icons at the top of any MakeUseOf page, and then selecting the blue “Email” button.

subscribeWhat do you think of MakeUseOf?  If you have another tech info source you love, please share it in the comments.

Our Library Catalogs Just Got More Accessible

As part of our recent library renovation, we made some improvements to the catalog search/event signup computers based on feedback from our patrons.

In addition to upgrading the machines to Windows 7, we broke up the centrally located circle of catalog search/event signup computers in order to distribute them throughout the library.  Now, two catalog search/event signup computers remain centrally located, and the others can be found on either end of the main room of the library (by the Teen Area and the Periodicals area).  As always, there is a separate catalog search computer in the Children’s Room.  Please note that a library card is not needed to access these computers.

The catalog search/event signup computer stands located at either end of the library are mounted to the wall.  By default, they are set to be standing stations, but the height of the unit can be adjusted to wheelchair or child height using the buttons on the front right of the keyboard tray:

Two catalog search computers are still located in the center of the library.  One is a standard walk-up station, and one is optimized for patrons who prefer to sit and/or view a screen in large print.  We hope to add a second seated catalog station in the future.

If you are interested in increasing the text size on this computer, click one of the icons to open a catalog or event page.  At the top of the screen, you should see a button labeled “Text Size”:

Click on the arrow to select a size, or click on the button itself to toggle between preset sizes.

Please let us know what you think about the changes (or suggest more improvements) in the comments below.  Your feedback helps us become a better library!

Apps to Help Identify a Tablet/Smartphone/Laptop Thief

11719567_sImage credit: seewhatmitchsee / 123RF Stock Photo

We all know tablets, smartphones, and laptops are attractive targets for thieves.  Not only is the equipment inherently valuable, but think of all the data, pictures, and account information you have saved on your phone!  The time to protect yourself is before your device is stolen.

MakeUseOf.com has written some helpful posts on how to prepare your devices for the worst case scenario.  I would recommend reading two short articles: Don’t Be a Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft and Identify the Guy Who Stole Your Phone, Tablet, or Laptop.

If thieves make you angry, and you would like to gloat at their humiliation and capture, try Revenge of the geek: MacBook thief made a fool of on YouTube. The end of the article contains links to more stories of foiled electronics thieves.

Do you use a recovery tool not mentioned in the articles above?  Please share it the comments section below.