I attended both days of the Library Technology Conference (LibTechConf) at Macalester College this March. This was my third time attending, though my first time in several years. As usual with conferences, the sessions were a bit hit-and-miss as to whether they were applicable to a rural public library, but the discussions during and between sessions were great. Needs and resources may vary by type of library and location, but lots of things are universal! Below are highlights from several of the sessions I attended.
Digital Preservation Day at the Library: A How-to Guide
Did you know that MINITEX loans out digital preservation kits to libraries all over the state? Now you do! The kits are designed primarily for digitizing photographs, slides, and other small, two-dimensional items, but a lightbox is also available for photographing 3D objects. You can learn more about the kits here: https://mndigital.org/projects/scan-keeps Some important things to remember during your event are to choose a limit of how many items each patron can digitize and to remind patrons to be specific when recording information about their items. “Grandma by the lake house” may mean a lot to you, but may mean less or something completely different to another family member.
Two Librarians, In the Hallway, with the Laptop
Podcasting is another way to reach your patrons digitally, particularly those who frequently listen to things while working, driving, etc. Librarians in Charlottesville, Virginia, record a bi-monthly podcast featuring interviews, book talks, and snippets from library programs, to highlight components of their library and community. To record their shows, they use Audacity (a free sound editing program), a Blue Yeti microphone (about $100), and a laptop. Although the microphone helps improve sound quality, they noted that the microphones built into most laptops will work fine if you’re just getting started. They also pay for a website to store and distribute their podcasts, though there are a variety of hosting platforms available. The biggest cost, however, is time: they estimated that recording and editing the half hour shows generally takes between 8 and 16 hours per episode. Still, in communities with truckers, farmers, and long-distance commuters, a podcast could be a great way to engage your patrons.
MNSpin at Hennepin County Library
Last year, the Hennepin County Library launched MNSpin, a streaming and downloading service for digital music of indie Minnesota musicians. (https://hclib.musicat.co/) Music can be streamed by anyone, and anyone who has registered their card with Hennepin County can download music. They recently closed their second round of submissions for albums by Minnesota-based musicians. Any Minnesota musician may submit an album, and each chosen group receives a $200 stipend to allow HCL to host their album for two years. This project did not seem particularly scalable to smaller communities due to both the costs involved (upwards of $40,000 currently) and the digital resources needed for musicians. Applicants must already have an album of digital music recorded. Hennepin County does offer recording equipment in one of their branches. A first step for smaller communities may be to find or provide resources for local musicians looking to record their work.
Using Apps to Streamline Your Social Media Presence
The campus library at Concordia College in Moorehead uses several social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Since images and videos increase engagement on social media platforms, that means creating and crossposting a lot of media. To make managing these easier, they use a variety of mobile apps to create their video and image content on the go. For images, Allie Thome recommended Over (iOS/Apple only), Canva, and Snapseed. For video, she recommended Quik, Boomerang, and Adobe Spark Video (iOS/Apple only). Many of these can be linked to social media accounts so media can be uploaded directly to the platform of your choice. All of them are free to use, though some have special templates and features that have to be purchased. Quik seemed like an especially interesting tool for creating videos after an event. When installed, if you allow it, Quik will automatically assemble videos from the photos and video on your phone, using geolocation and timestamps to divide your library. So, for instance, if your library had a special craft program on a Saturday, Quik would automatically create a video for “A Saturday in X” from the photos you took. You can then edit the title, included media, and music.