or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Digital Picture Frames as Informational Signs

   July 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog

Digital picture frame at the Childrens DeskUsually I'm pretty good at math, but in this case it took me awhile to put two and two together.

Awhile ago, our Childrens Department put a digital picture frame on their desk, using it to display photos of their various programs*. I'd seen and heard of other libraries using digital picture frame like this, and for in-building informational signs (like upcoming events), but I never thought of an application for it at the Reference Desk.

Until a couple weeks ago, when I was in the Apple Store in Boston. I'm not at all an Apple fanboy, but I admit that once in awhile, they come up with a good idea.

A friend of mine was having trouble with her Mac laptop, so we took it to the genius bar to having someone help us with it. I still really like the idea of the genius bar in and of itself, but what got my attention was that, behind the genius bar were great big screens scrolling through tips and information. The messages were all about using or fixing Apple products, which were perfectly targeted at the captive audience of people waiting for the genius bar.

I didn't get any photos myself (Apple is funny about taking pictures in their store), but here are some from the interweb:

Apple Store Genius Bar
Apple Store Genius Bar
Apple Store Genius Bar

You get the idea.

When I saw that, it finally dawned on me - this would be an easy thing for libraries to do at service desks, using a simple digital picture frame. As soon as I can get approval (and funding) to purchase one, I'd like to try one with rotating tips on topics like:

  • how to renew books
  • how to book museum passes
  • using online resources and databases
  • where the bathrooms are
  • online events calendar
  • how to find summer reading books

Really, good topics are anything that might be interesting to someone waiting in line at the Reference Desk.

The "photos" will just be slides created in PowerPoint, and hopefully, having something interesting to look will give patrons waiting in line something to do (in addition to teaching them something they may not have known).

I bet other libraries have already thought of this, so if you're doing it, please comment with how it's working. When I get ours up and running, I'll post an update with how it went.

 


*They decided to use a digital picture frame rather than flickr or other online service, because they were reluctant to post photos of kids on the internet. Keeping the photos offline and in the Childrens Room was a good compromise (between online or not at all), and it might be more likely for the kids to see themselves, too.



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Historical Photo Collection Survey Results

   September 30th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Historical postcard of the Chelmsford LibraryThanks to everyone who completed the historical photo collection survey. The Nashua Library got answers about 13 different collections, which will help them create their own collection policy.

Kersten Matera from the Nashua Library was kind of enough to compile and summarize the results (below) - a PDF of the full results and individual answers [156KB] is also available.

I was particularly interested in seeing what kind of fees libraries are charging for digital copies of their images collections. To this I asked the question: If the public wants a high-resolution digital copy of an image, will you provide that to them?

  • 42% of libraries do not offer high-resolution copies
  • 33% offer copies for free
  • 25% charge a fee (e.g. $10, $20, $24)

Interesting to note that a call in to Kinko's furnished me with their scanning prices: $6.99 if they scan it and put it onto your storage device, or, an additional $9.99 to burn it onto a CD for you.

Other questions that were asked on the Historical Photos survey included whether or not the library would provide a physical copy of an item in the collection

  • 5 libraries said they charge between $.10 and $.25 for what I took to mean a copy on regular paper which is printed using the library's printer
  • 4 libraries charge a rate more in line with what a photo shop would charge (i.e. $5.00-24.00)
  • 2 libraries do not provide copies
  • 1 library will provide them for free

When asked about possible tools to help with a Historical Photos collection, responses included: Flickr, Content DM, Facebook, a library's OPAC (in this case, Polaris), Illinois State Digital Archive, Local History Digital Archive, websites created specifically for such things, and library websites.

How much of your historical photos collection is digitized?

  • All of the collection:16.7%
  • Some:66.7%
  • None:16.7%

Is the collection available/viewable online?

  • All are viewable online:25%
  • Some:58.3%
  • None:16.7%

If the public wants a physical copy of an image in your collection, will you provide that to them?

  • No:16.7%
  • Yes, for free:8.3%
  • Yes, for a charge:75%

Do you have any mark (e.g. a watermark) on the image that marks it as being part of your collection?

  • Yes:66.7%
  • No:33.3%

No library had a limit to the number of digital copies they would provide.

Thanks again to all who participated!



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Historical Photo Collections Survey

   September 14th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Historical postcard of the Chelmsford LibraryHi everyone - I'm hoping you can help out with a quick survey. Kersten Matera from the Nashua (NH) Public Library is compiling data on how libraries handle digitized collections of historical photos.

Please, take a couple minutes to fill out the survey below. It's always interesting to compare how libraries handle similar tasks, and I'm particularly curious to learn what software libraries use to share their digital collections.

When the survey is complete, Kersten and I will post the results for everyone to check out - thanks for helping:

And for what it's worth, my library has put our historical photograph collection (such as it is - it's not something we actively collect) on our flickr account, which patrons and others can use free of charge, provided they comply with our CC license.



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Resources for Free Images and More

   November 19th, 2009 Brian Herzog

squirrelSometimes, being a librarian equates to being a packrat. At least in the virtual world, I can collect as many links as I want and it doesn't take up any room. However, to be useful, it does take organization.

For awhile now I've been bookmarking posts about free resources for clipart, photographs and other artwork. I use them for library publications, and also for my posts here. But just this week I got my act together and started transferring those links from my Bloglines account to my Delicious account, and thought I'd share them.

If you're curious how to do this with Delicious, check out my how-two post for creating library subject guides.

And just for good measure, here are a few web design tools I had bookmarked, too:



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Old Timey Photo Editing

   August 14th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Before and after photos of Cedar Point dock, circa 1900The library in my hometown has a blog, which I read because it's well done and because it's a way for me to stay connected with where my family lives.

I particularly enjoyed one recent post. Someone found a photo in the library's historical archive that had been later doctored for use in a promotional book.

Check the original post for bigger photos. It is interesting to see how the photo, circa 1900, could be altered so well - as opposed to some of the bad work being done now with Photoshop.

This shows that fun can come from library archive, especially photo archives. Also, too, the subject of the photo is interesting. It's the dock of Cedar Point, an amusement park in Sandusky, OH. And I am always amazed at how dressing nicely was just a matter of course in that era. People at Cedar Point don't dress like that anymore.



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Online Photo Sharing with Flickr

   April 3rd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Flickr Loves YouLast night I gave a workshop at my library on how to use flickr for online photo sharing (thanks to everyone who contributed). It went well, and I thought I'd post the handouts here (no slides, since it was a live demo in flickr). Feel free to use or repackage this material for your own purposes. The online version is below, and here are pdf and Word versions:

 

Introduction to Online Photo Sharing

  1. The three main reasons to use an online photo sharing website with your digital pictures are:
    • They serve as backup copies in case something happens to your computer or camera
    • They are easy to organize and manage to find later on
    • They can easily be shared with other people (better than emailing!)
  2. A short introductory video about photo sharing: http://www.commoncraft.com/photosharing
  3. Visit the Library's flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chelmsfordpubliclibrary

 

Creating a flickr account

Flickr has both a free version (limited to 200 photos, 3 sets, 100mb uploads per month - http://www.flickr.com/help/limits) and a paid "Pro" version ($24.95/year with no limits or ads).

Flickr is owned by Yahoo.com, so you will need (or need to create) a Yahoo account to use flickr. (You'll only have to do these steps once)

  1. Go to http://www.flickr.com and click "Sign In" and create your account
  2. Read the Community Guidelines
  3. Account Settings you should customize (click account name at the top right of the screen)
    Personal Information

    • Your buddy icon
    • Your screenname (this is what will show on flickr, not what you use to log in)
    • Your flickr web address (how people can find you)

    Privacy & Permissions

    • Who will be able to see, comment on, and annotate your photos
      • Only You, Friends and/or Family, Anyone
      • Guest Pass (share sets with specific people regardless of privacy settings)
      • Can be changed at any time, on a per-photo basis
    • What license will your photos have (http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses)

    There are lots more account settings that you can customize, but these are some you should customize

 

Uploading Photographs

Flickr offers lots of ways to upload photos - from the flickr website, from your computer, from your camera phone or by email. We'll look at using the flickr website.

  1. Go to http://www.flickr.com and click "Sign In"
  2. Click upload photos
  3. Browse to the photos on your camera or computer
  4. Set privacy setting, edit photo title, add description and tags (first step in organizing)

Make Notes and read Comments on your photos. Click the "Add Note" icon in the toolbar above each photo to highlight a specific area of your photo. Other flickr users will leave comments below your photos, and some will mark your photos are "favorites."

flickr image toolbar

 

Organizing and Sharing Photographs

Create Sets to group related photos.

  1. Click Organize > Your Sets
  2. Add name, description and photos (drag and drop)
  3. Photos can be added to more than one set

Add to Map to show where you've been or where something is.

  1. Click Organize > Your Map
  2. Find location on map (be as specific as possible)
  3. Drag and drop photo onto map

Use Groups to share photos with other people who have similar photos.

  1. Click Groups > Search for Groups
  2. When you fin one you like, click Join this Group
  3. Add photos to a Group's photo pool by clicking Groups > Your Groups

View Your Contacts photos to see what has been recently uploaded by people you know or like - you can also Invite people to view your photos even if they don't have a Flickr account.

Use a Badge to automatically show your photos on your website.

Print Your Photos right from flickr - choose the size and finish, and they will mail them to you.

 

Edit Your Photographs Online

Flickr uses Picnik to allow flickr users to edit photos right online. To do this, click the "Edit Photo" icon in the toolbar above the photo to edit, and this will import the photo into the Picnik editor.

  • Picnik allows for color adjustment, red-eye reduction, cropping, resizing and more
  • Some features are "Premium" - you have to pay to use them
  • "Pro" flickr users can replace photos; free account can only create new photos
  • Lots of other online photo editors are available, but this is the only one integrated with flickr

 

Glossary of Flickr Terms

Badge: A way to add photos from your flickr account right to your own website

Collection: A group of sets (can also include photos not in sets)

Contacts: Other flickr users you have chosen to add to Your Contacts page; can be Contacts, Friends or Family

Description: Text describing a photograph (shows below the photo)

Discussion board: Online discussion forum available for group members to talk to each other

Favorite: Marking a photo a "favorite" adds it to Your Favorites page, to make it easy to find later

Geotagging: Adding location-related metadata to your photos to make them findable by where they were taken (this happens automatically when you add photos to your map)

Groups: A group of flickr users with a similar interest, and share information via a photo pool and a discussion board

Metadata: Information about your photos used to organize and find them. Tags, titles and descriptions are examples of metadata, but your camera will also automatically add shutter speed, exposure, white balance, etc. to your photo's metadata

Note: Text describing a highlighted section of a photograph (shows right on the photo)

Photostream: The photos uploaded to a flickr account

Picnik: The tool flickr uses for online photo editing

Pool: The photos of individual group members that they have added to the group

Set: A group of related photographs

Tags (or tagging): Keywords added to a photograph to make it easy to find

Title: Short "headline" of a photo (shows above the photo)

 

More Flickr Resources

 

Other Online Photo Resources (no downloading required)

Photo Sharing:

Photo Editing:




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