Friday, June 3, 2022

"U.S. Technology and Solutions for Waste-to-Energy Initiatives" project for Pakistan

An image of meeting participants in front of the iLab.
I had the honor of hosting another World Partnerships and United States Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program today for their "U.S. Technology and Solutions for Waste-to-Energy Initiatives" project for Pakistan. 

There were visitors from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Departments (Punjab and Sindh), the Green Building Council, and other Pakistani energy organizations. These people are brilliant and I learned a lot; plus, I realized more than ever that I need to learn so much more about our global energy issues. Oh, and today is the Innovation Lab's 8th birthday! I always love sharing what the iLab does for the community.

An image of Peter Keller presenting via Zoom.
We also had an informative virtual meeting with Mr. Peter Keller, Managing Director at Berkeley Research Group (BRG), where we learned about the waste services industry, including financing strategies and market trends and their global impacts. Mr. Keller has arranged and participated in transactions across the spectrum from exploration and
production, midstream, refining, and pipeline to nuclear, fossil, and renewable generation to transmission and distribution. He has advised key utility clients as the industry went through major deregulation and began to confront the challenges of climate change and the need to decarbonize.

An image of meeting participants in a classroom.
BRG Energy & Climate offers integrated, multi-disciplinary expertise to help clients master the challenges and imperatives of Climate Change, energy transition, and related dispute resolution. They recognize the economic trade-offs that exist at every juncture of the value chain, and utilize their collective expertise to help clients analyze them, identify best available options, and implement the optimal solutions.

An image of the Women in STEM initiative.
I have been fortunate to partner with this amazing organization over the years. Back in November 2019, I was so blessed to meet with these intelligent and creative scientists representing Vietnam, Estonia, Egypt, Zambia, South Africa, Paraguay, Malta, and Argentina. We had a great discussion and it was a rewarding experience learning about their professional work in their respective countries. We have continued to meet virtually over the years and, in fact, had plans to meet inside virtual reality but we had difficulties getting equipment due to export controls (i.e., U.S. laws that "regulate and restrict the release of critical technologies, information, and services to foreign nationals, within and outside of the United States, and foreign countries for reasons of foreign policy and national security.") Regardless, we have had success using more traditional tools like Zoom to stay connected.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of State asked if I would moderate an esports/gaming panel where 20 participants from Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela all logged in from across the Western Hemisphere to discuss “Video Games for STEAM and Entrepreneurship.” The U.S. Department of State, Cultural Vistas, World Partnerships, and Games For Change hosted the webinar. I learned a LOT doing this and I still cannot believe that I was asked to do it; but, again, I am beyond thankful for these opportunities! 

An image of World Partnerships and Department of State logos.

"World Partnerships has a worldwide mission for educational, cultural, commercial and professional exchange with current and emerging global leaders. U.S. Embassies and Consulates in more than 100 countries have screened the movie “Hidden Figures” for international audiences, generating discussions on race, gender equality, and women in STEM careers. These successful screenings inspired the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) where women leaders who represented “hidden talent” in their home countries visit the United States to explore U.S. efforts to prepare women and girls for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)."

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I Miss You, Springpad! Using Android's Barcode Scanner and Evernote for Collection Development

I was very disappointed when Springpad
shut down their personal assistant app a few months ago. It was a superior app and none of its alternatives come close to its easy-to-use and powerful features. In addition to using collaborative notebooks, which no one else does very well for free, I was using Springpad's integrated barcode scanner to easily scan and store books that I wanted to buy for my library. I could access all of the books in my "Collection Development" folder from anywhere and on any device. Unfortunately, I have tried many other apps and they just don't do it correctly, even EvernoteI miss this feature! 

Furthermore, I've noticed that people have been submitting feature requests to try and get Evernote to add a barcode scanner for over 4 years now and still nothing.  Google Goggles can process the images that it scans, but I don't think it can store/send all of its history to another service and/or within its own app for manually processing later. If it is possible, then please let me know. I even thought of creating my own barcode scanner app via MIT's App Inventor to automatically query my OPAC first, then store the ISBN's that aren't in my library's collection, and to then send them to a spreadsheet somewhere so I could import it into Baker and Taylor. I don't have enough time for that right now, but it can totally be done! One of these days ... 

So, the other day I was browsing at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore and I saw a ton of books that I wanted to read, and consequently, add to my library's public collection. I tried using Evernote again and it just wasn't working the way I wanted it to, so I decided to look a little closer at Android's stock barcode scanner app to see if I could do something similar. I miss you Springpad. Anyway, here is my workaround.

1. Open the Barcode Scanner app and then scan the ISBN barcode on the back of the book.

2. Select the History option to see all your scanned barcodes and then hit the Share button.

3. Select Evernote as the destination app.

4.  Evernote will store the history of scanned barcodes.

5. You can download/share the spreadsheet and simply paste the ISBN's or import the cleaned-up spreadsheet into your favorite online ordering tool (e.g., Baker and Taylor etc.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Setting up Chromecast

Here is a quick overview of the Chromecast setup after you plug it into an HDMI port. Note: I have the device plugged into an power outlet since an HDMI port won't charge the Chromecast.

1. Change your TV source to the appropriate HDMI port and then this screen displays.

2.  Visit on a laptop, phone, or tablet and set things up.

3.Click Set up once your laptop, phone, or tablet connects to the Chromecast.
4. Continue.
5.  Input wireless credentials. 

6. Confirm the code on your TV.

7. You are ready to cast! 

8. I tried YouTube first. I selected "Living Room Chromecast" in the lower right-hand corner.
9. Done! I tried it on my S3, iPad, and XOOM and it worked perfectly!

10. I am also using the Google Cast extension so I can cast any of my tabs to my TV.

So far I love Chromecast! It was very easy to setup and it was only $35! I will post a more detailed review once I get a chance to use it more. I do plan on bringing one to my computer lab at school so I can easily display my small screens on the big screen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Everyone Should (Still) Be Concerned About Proposed Legislation (SOPA and PIPA)

Image source:
With SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act] (H.R.3261) and the PROTECT IP Act [Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011] (S.968), free and open communication via the Internet may be severely severed. The power to censor could be in the hands of the entertainment industry and from within our government if this legislation eventually passes. The proposed legislation gives the government the power to shut down unauthorized Web sites used for piracy even though most of these Web sites are outside U.S. jurisdiction. Going further, Web sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook and any others with user-generated and shared content could be flagged and caught in this bill. This should be important to everyone especially if you value your intellectual freedom.

On January 18, 2012 Wikipedia and others will protest SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act by blacking out their Web sites. People visiting libraries that day will approach the reference desk asking why some of their favorite Web sites are gone and I think Librarians should be ready to provide unbiased information/commentary on this proposed legislation, so that our users can make wise decisions and realize that this is very important – not just for today, but well into o future.

Although piracy is clearly wrong, this proposed legislation will not stop people from doing it. Simply adding an IP address into a browser’s address field will allow pirates to still download materials illegally while legitimate links/commentary etc. may be considered copyright infringement and subsequently blocked while our freedom of expression dissolves into the ether!   

Technically, it is illegal to share Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in any format and if SOPA, for example, passed then links to this amazing speech would be removed automatically. No one would be able to experience the speech unless they purchased it. EMI on behalf of The King Center has enforced their copyright and ordered its removal from YouTube. Their Web site says that they will sell you or your school a copy for $10 or you can buy the DVD at  Although there are current ways for corporations to take infringed copyright content down (e.g., Digital Millenium Copyright ActPRO-IP ActAnti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), the passing of bills like SOPA and PROTECT IP would undermine the basic structure of the Internet while it’s open/sharing/collaborative aspect would diminish and this is very unfortunate.

The White House recently said that it wouldn’t support any bill that would “inhibit innovation” and they vowed to protect “the openness of the Internet” and this is fantastic news, but everyone (not just librarians or technologists etc.) should be aware of this threatening legislation and stand up and be heard. The Electronic Frontier Foundation makes it easy to send a “Please oppose the Internet Blacklist Legislation (PROTECT IP and SOPA)” letter to your representatives. So, if you oppose this proposed legislation, then please let your voice be heard!

Any Google search (right now at least) for SOPA will provide well over 120,000,000 results, but here are a few worth checking out:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“A New Hope for Books”

I couldn’t find an online version of this article, but Clive Thompson begins with a question that many of us have been asking for a long time and that is “will the e-book kill off the print book?”  Well, the paperless office still doesn’t exist and it probably won’t; so, could this fact help answer the above question with a simple and emphatic NO!? Books will live on well into the future; however, they probably won’t flourish and we are already seeing a decline in print materials thanks to all this e-stuff floating around within the “clouds.” I shouldn’t be using that word because it makes me feel silly, but I digress.  So, do you think that the above question and the multitude of prophetic answers even matters anymore?  Does it create a moral panic?  Even Marshall McLuhan predicted the end of print in the 1960’s and we still have print.  We still have vinyl records!  Hmmm …

Thompson states that print-on-demand will do the same thing to books as the explosion of paper use did for the paperless office.  The print-on-demand trend is allowing people to self-publish and this is creating an “intergalactically long tail.” Thompson compares traditional publishing, where the number of new titles increased 5%, to print-on-demand and self-publishing, which is growing 169% -- albeit not all good content, but that is another post. So, imagine what the book market will be like when the average computer user can print out paperbacks at home using more affordable print-on-demand technologies.  I can’t wait to read “The Myth of the Paperless Book” someday. ;)

Check out “The Myth of the Paperless Office” by Abigail J. Sellen and Richard Harper. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is Instantaneous Access to Information Good?

Find the needle in this haystack.
I was driving my “almost five” year old daughter (her words) to school the other day and she asked me to play “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. My first reaction was my daughter is pretty cool.  My second reaction was absolutely – I can do this for you because I have instant access to most everything.  So, I was able to find and play that song on my phone thanks to Spotify and this is a great luxury, right? It probably is. Well, I started to think more about what happened and remembered a time, not that long ago, when I had to wait until an album was officially released before I could get my hands on it. The bike ride to the record store was exhilarating! I miss that anticipation today. Now, I can listen to albums BEFORE they are even officially released thanks to leaks and so forth. For the record, I usually don’t listen to leaked albums from artists I highly respect because I want to listen to it on their terms. Again, that eager anticipation is a strong feeling for me and I wonder if that feeling will be lost with our growing expectancies to have instant access to music, books, film, and other content.  If so, does it matter?

We all know that finding a needle in a haystack can be challenging. In fact, it is probably unlikely that you’ll find the needle unless you have a strong magnet or some special needle-finding tool. Today, it seems that we have very strong magnets to help us, but we are finding thousands of needles. So, I wonder if we have too much content (i.e., music, books, film etc.) instantly accessible to us. Will we become less interested in discovering new content if everything we find isn’t extraordinary? Will the ordinary stuff be ignored? Plus, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so we may want to throw that magnet away.  Should you throw away your magnet?

Just recently, Tzadik’s collection was removed from Spotify. My instantaneous access to this incredible music catalog is now lost and I need to search for it and acquire it again. For this week at least, MOG has the Tzadik collection and I can rebuild it from scratch. I hope MOG doesn’t lose this collection, but I’ll have to wait and see. So, I have a great collection started at Spotify and I don’t really want to start over, but I probably will. I own close to 2,000 CDs, but they aren’t convenient for me anymore. I’ve slowly started to digitize the ones that won’t be in Spotify and/or within other music services and have donated the others because I can stream any one of them instantly to any device whenever I feel the urge to do so. I am spoiled and get upset when I don’t have instant access to everything. Is this okay?

Most content that we have instant access to never sees the light of day, so is it important to even try to provide consumers with all this stuff? As Bob Lefsetz says regarding music, “it's so hard to find greatness amidst the cacophony” and I can see libraries suffering from this too unless we help to curate our content and give our users multiple opportunities to create something useful with it.

My daughter will grow up not having to wait for anything – digital at least. Sure, if she needs quick medical or safety information and can get it within seconds then that is a good thing, but is it good for everything else? I think it is wonderful that technology is providing us with this luxury, but I wonder if it will cheapen the value of the content and/or if we’ll get so spoiled and lazy that much of this content will get lost amidst the cacophony. I hope not. I hope humanity becomes more intelligent because of the torrent of information instantly accessible to us. We’ll see.  What do you think? Does it matter?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Will Amazon Offer Purchasing and/or Donation Options for Library-Owed E-Books?

It may already have happened, but if not, I am wondering how long it will take Amazon to offer a purchasing and/or donation option for library “owed” e-book titles. For a while, OverDrive’s LibraryBIN (“Buy It Now”) program has allowed patrons “to buy popular and best-selling e-books and audiobooks with most of the LibraryBIN profits going back to libraries.” This is pretty cool, but will Amazon do it? I’d think that publishers would be happy because they could gain some revenue from it. A win-win, right?

Undoubtedly, library e-book collections will gain more visibility and with more visibility comes more demand, which many libraries may not be able to handle. Although I am fairly confident that libraries can handle it, it is probably too early to tell.  Anyway, I would welcome the idea of Amazon adding a purchasing option for high-demand library e-book titles as long as a portion (even a very small portion) of Amazon’s profits go to library funds AND if library users could then donate their used e-books to their library’s digital collections to give others the opportunity to read them.

On another note, Gary Price from InfoDocket, wrote a thought-provoking post on “eBooks, Privacy, and the Library” and he asks some very important questions that everyone, not just librarians, should be trying to answer.

What do you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chad Mairn, CTO of Novare, publishes a chapter on Mobile-Optimized Library Resources and Services

Chad Mairn, Chief Technology Officer at Novare Library Services and St. Petersburg College Librarian, wrote a chapter titled ‘Acquiring, Promoting, and Using Mobile-Optimized Library Resources and Services,’ which will be published this month in “E-Reference Context and Discoverability in Libraries: Issues and Concepts” edited by Sue Polanka You can take advantage of IGI Global’s pre-publication pricing today or read a summarized version of Chad’s chapter from Advances in Library Information Science’s newsletter here. You can also read the first few pages of the chapter here  

Here is the abstract:

Although the reasons vary, it is apparent that the majority of library users prefer electronic reference content primarily because information provided in that format is easier to find and use; plus, much of this content is accessed via mobile devices. This chapter will discuss best practices for acquiring, promoting, and using mobile-optimized library resources and services including reference content -- although most Ready Reference print collections have disappeared because of the ease of finding factual information thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and others. A report on mobile library surveys and vendor usage statistics regarding the use and future aspects of mobile-optimized library reference resources and services will also be discussed in order to provide a snapshot of what is working in this emerging technology that is impacting most everyone today. The chapter also will attempt to answer questions to determine if promoting mobile-optimized content is helping users discover oftentimes hidden library reference content while they are on the go.

Monday, February 28, 2011

It Is Time To Negotiate Change

Photo by Maggie Smith

Companies are in business to make money. I get this. If the book publishers looked to the failing, or failed, music industry they could learn a lot. They probably won’t and the most recent HarperCollins news seems to provide some evidence to support that statement.

Well, I’m sure this has been mentioned already, but I wanted to state it again because it makes sense to me. Okay, if I am reading an eBook and I am on chapter 12, then technically there are many other chapters that are not being read at that point in time. Another reader could start reading chapter 1.  Another reader could have 3 pages left to read etc.  It is technically possible for more than one person to read an eBook at the same time, but the publishers keep thinking “one reader/one book” and that is 20th century thinking – maybe even 15th century thinking.

Maybe it is time to look more closely at a Netflix-esque, Rhapsody-esque, or some other subscription model for libraries so that authors/publishers get paid per download or per view. Libraries can help distribute content! Libraries are pretty good at this actually. Publishers could make more money if they were more flexible and allowed libraries to do what they do best, which is helping connect their users to valuable information. Of course, libraries do way more than this, but this connection is significant. If an eBook is popular and, let’s say, 26 people read it, then charge the library for those “reads” by adding code to the eBook that automatically pays the publisher out of the library budget. It seems to be working for musicians – although musicians make more money if they aren’t under contract with a music label and/or distributor.  Plus, an analytic reporting function could be incorporated into an eBook that lets the publisher know that a user, for example, was only browsing a particular title to determine if they wanted to read it or not and this would not count as a “full read.” I can browse books at Barnes and Noble and I am not charged for doing this.  It should be the same for eBooks.

Going further, it is now affordable and convenient to download/stream music. More and more people are doing this legally because it is so much easier to have instant access to everything you want and whenever you want it, instead of illegally searching for music on torrent and file sharing web sites and taking risks with malicious software and other repercussions. For me, paying a $10 to $20 a month subscription fee to gain access to unlimited music or movies is totally worth it and I would do the same exact thing for eBooks through my library if it was possible. The funny thing, this is possible! We need to move past the “one reader/one Book” model soon. OverDrive offers “max access” subscription models and this is a step in the right direction, but this needs to benefit everyone and I am not 100% certain this is the case. If it is, please let me know.

Libraries need to step up and negotiate with these publishers, and as many librarians have already mentioned in other posts and tweets, librarians need to become strong advocates for their readers! If having access to eBooks and other eContent was in everyone’s “best” interest, including library users, then what is the problem?  Why hasn’t this happened yet? Money? I would think publishers (and their authors) could get paid more money if they went this route and began to think like innovators and not like stubborn idiots. It is not my intention to insult anyone. I just want to know why we don’t have a decent model yet? I’d like to share a passage from Bob Lefsetz because it supports my initial thoughts above:

Eviscerate piracy.  Make it so it’s just not worth it to steal.  Hell, people may even forget how to steal… But, but, but…if we lower the price so everybody can get in, we’re going to lose that extra revenue from our best customers!  Cable providers don’t care how much you watch TV, it’s just about signing up.  And cell providers have unlimited plans.  And both have great anti-piracy measures so there’s no direct comparison, but the point is today’s paradigm is giving a lot for a little, not being pecked to death by ducks, micro-payments of  $1.29 for every track.  Who could survive on a system like this?  Not car companies, who sell accessories in packages.  The key is to come up with a bucket of tracks, for a reasonable price. (Source:

I agree! This is nothing new, but I do feel that it is time to rethink our library subscription models. Not just for eBooks, but we need to explore this for our databases and other eContent as well. Vendors are already figuring out ways (simple ways, in fact) to bypass libraries altogether and deal directly with their end users. This is unfortunate on so many levels. Should we simply watch this happen, or should we start negotiating, or should we boycott publishers who are not “library friendly?” These are tough questions that need answers. This recent HarperCollins announcement is ridiculous at best and libraries need to respond intelligently.  A couple of good places to start:

Search/use #hcod hashtag on Twitter.
There will be an “eBook Trends and Practices” track at the 2011 Computers in Libraries conference.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mobile library website fits in your pocket!

Although the SPC Library website has been optimized for mobile users, the time has come to utilize innovative technologies for the new generation of touch screen mobile devices.

SPC Librarian Chad Mairn designed the library’s new mobile-optimized “touch” website interface to act much like an application for an iPhone or other mobile devices. But unlike most applications, the website is entirely web-based and no downloads or updates are required.

“The trend is moving more toward mobile, and once students know that a website is mobile-optimized, they’ll be using it more,” Mairn said. “If a site doesn’t look well on my mobil device, I just won’t use it.”

The new mobile-optimized website, designed for on-the-go users, includes:

  • Library locations with one-touch access to Google Maps, library telephone numbers and hours of operation

  • Access to mobile research databases and the library catalog, making it quick and easy to find articles, books and other information

  • New library releases, resources and services such as Ask-a-Librarian

  • Selected research tools for a variety of operating systems, including Android, Blackberry, iOS (Apple’s iPhone), WebOS, Symbian and Windows

  • External links to the library’s full website
To access the mobile library, visit on your mobile device or scan this QR code to gain instant access.

For more information or to provide comments, please contact Chad Mairn. Special thanks to Yuka Takayama for helping code the mobile redirect script.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Abandon Ownership!

An interesting Wired article regarding the "rentership society" got me thinking about libraries. Libraries have been in the "rental" business for a long time and it seems to be working, right? In the article, Suellentrop states that ownership is "for suckers" and I see his point. He goes on to say that ownership can be a burden and I know this feeling fairly well too (especially the last few years) since I do own my own home. Hopefully, the investment will pay off in the long run, but we'll have to wait and see.

Getting back to the point, I used to own thousands of CDs/DVDs/books and I still do, but I haven't bought a CD, DVD, or book for personal use in years because I simply can't find space for this stuff anymore. Conveniently, I now stream and/or download all my music and moving pictures. Occasionally, I will have Netflix mail me a blu-ray disc, but for the most part I have instant access to entertainment. The point is, I don't mind paying a monthly fee to have unlimited entertainment. I access content (e.g., music, film, documentaries, etc.) whenever and wherever I want, but I don't have this option right now with eBooks! I personally won't pay $10 for a single eBook EVER! Finally, Suellentrop wrote something that hit me hard in that "the winner of the ebook sweepstakes will be the bookseller who becomes a book renter." Wow, doesn't this sound like a perfect fit for libraries or is it just me? Having a library Netflix model for books in any format would be fantastic, wouldn't it?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Handheld Librarian 4 Online Conference: Call for Program Proposals!

TAP Information Services and LearningTimes invite librarians, library staff, vendors, graduate students, and developers to submit program proposals related to the topic of mobile library services for the online Handheld Librarian 4 conference to be held online February 23 and 24, 2011.

The Handheld Librarian 4 (HHLib4) conference will feature interactive, live online sessions and links to recorded events following the conference. HHLib4 is interested in a broad range of submissions that highlight current, evolving, and future issues in mobile library services. This year, HHLib4 will feature a program track with presentations by graduate library students. These include but are not limited to the following program tracks:

  • ebooks
  • location-based social networking
  • augmented reality
  • twitter
  • apps
  • device and OS trends
  • QR codes
  • reference
  • mobile trend spotting
  • mobile technologies impacting society
  • web/app development best practices

Proposal Submissions:
Submit your proposal by completing the webform at by December 1, 2010. Online presentations may be conducted in one of four formats:

  • a 45-minute live online session (i.e. synchronous webcast)
  • a 15 minute student presentation ***
  • a 10 minute live online session or
  • a pre-recorded presentation (i.e. narrated web tour or slides).
You will be notified by January 15, 2011 if your proposal has been accepted. Conference registration fees are waived for speakers. Presenters Are Expected To:

  • Conduct your session using Adobe Connect (computer, Internet, mic required)
  • Provide a digital photo of yourself for the conference website
  • Respond to questions from attendees
  • Attend an online 30-60 minute training on Adobe Connect prior to the conference

Thank you for considering submitting a proposal. If you have questions, please contact:

Lori Bell,
Tom Peters, TAP Information Services,
Susan Manning, LearningTimes,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social Media Quick Guide

I am talking about social media and I wanted to show how easy it is to publish to a blog. Here is a link to the Social Media Quick Guide.