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News and stories from the WNY library community
Updated: 12 min 18 sec ago

Awards for Local Technology

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 10:08

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the 17th annual BETAS, the Buffalo Emerging Technology Awards Showcase. These awards are given to local companies and entrepreneurs by InfoTech WNY, a consortium of software/hardware/telecommunications companies, government agencies, and educational institutions.

BB8 from “The Force Awakens” greeted us at the entrance.

The event was held at Buffalo Riverworks, and not coincidentally on May the Fourth, also known as Star Wars Day. It started with a Technology Showcase, a trade show that gave sponsors and award finalists a chance to show their products and services at booths on the venue’s upper level. Here are a few companies that I though were worth noting. (This post is not sponsored or affiliated with these companies in any way.)

Sunnking provides electronics recycling. WIth the proliferation of mobile technology that is frequently upgraded, this is a needed service. There’s no cost for this, and you can drop off your used electronics at any of these drop-off locations. If your library has hardware that you need to dispose of, please take a look.

BuffaloGameSpace is a non-profit dedicated to helping people make games, whether professional or aspiring. They hold meetings, workshops, and offer mentorship. In particular, the organization was promoting its BGS Showcase (May 13th), which shows the latest games being made locally, and a chance to play them and meet the creators. This could be a great organization to partner with if you are looking to get young patrons interested in coding or software development.

The awards ceremony was held during dinner. The Infotech WNY blog has lists of the finalists and winners if you want the full run-down, but here are some highlights.

The IT Leader of the Year award had an all-male roster of finalists, so it was nice to see that there was also an award for Woman in Technology, which went to Mary Canty, a Ph.D.

The awards program, complete with Star Wars font.

Candidate in Biomedical Engineering at the University at Buffalo.

WNYLRC member Erie Community College was the winner of Best Tech Team in Non-Profit / Education.

Best use of Digital Marketing included two WNYLRC member institutions among the finalists, Trocaire College and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, with the award going to Trocaire.

If you are interested in knowing what’s happening locally in technology, I encourage you to consider attending the BETAS next year (it’s open to the general public, although there is a cost for the ticket). Or maybe even consider membership in Infotech WNY.


Getting “Real”

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 15:55

On April 21st, WNYLRC held its biennial (every-other-year) conference, organized by the Continuing Education Committee. The title was “REAL: Resources and Education for Awesome Libraries.”

After our 2015 conference, we received comments that people wanted presentations with more practical information, so that’s what we set out to give them. The first half of the day focused on UX (User Experience) while the afternoon contained a variety of topics.

Our first presenter was Judy Siegel, from Thompson Reuters, speaking on UX from an outside-of-libraries perspective. In talking about user-centered design, she shared a video showing how a shopping cart was redesigned completely with the customer in mind. She also shared examples of designs created for websites, and how you can even come up with ideas by just writing them down on paper and re-arranging them – it doesn’t all have to be done with a computer.

Judy’s slides are available on Google Docs.

Next up was Justin Cronise from Erie Community College. He reported on a “Work Like a User Day” that he had held among staff at ECC’s library. Staff had a checklist of tasks to complete, including entering through the public (rather than staff) entrance, and carrying all their belongings with them around the library, rather than leaving them at a desk or office.

Justin’s handout.

Our last presenter of the morning was Craig MacDonald from Pratt Institute. He covered how UX thinking has affected libraries, including the idea of a “User Experience Librarian” which many institutions have created in the last several years. He also spoke about different UX methods, such as A/B testing and user surveys.

Craig’s slides.

After lunch (catered by Lloyd Taco Truck) and some time to browse the exhibits at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, we resumed the presentations. Here we had 2 time slots with 2 presentations each:


Mandi Shepp and Christopher Shepp spoke about their respective roles of Library Director and Marketing Manager at Lily Dale Assembly. The library had been without a librarian for many years, and the community’s branding and marketing needed work, requiring creative thinking and new ideas.

Chris & Mandi’s slides.

Tom Vitale, of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, spoke about how libraries can serve as social service centers. He previously worked as a social worker and was able to incorporate ideas from that field in his work with special populations at a public library.

Tom’s slides and handout.

Katy Duggan-Haas of WNY-STEM spoke about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEM literacy. She shared examples of STEM-based learning where questions and investigations are driven by the students, and they are encouraged to think creatively.

Katy’s slides.

Rhonda Konig, a Genealogy Specialist at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, spoke on genealogy. She talked about how the field has changed today, and included useful resources and reference interview techniques for genealogical questions.

Rhonda’s handout.

Our final activity of the day was a craft using discarded books. Rhonda Konig, who also did our genealogy presentation, led the activity. Using simple bending or folding of the paper, we were able to make designs out of a book, using no glue or tape. For extra decoration, Rhonda provided some cut-outs and colored pencils that we enjoyed using on our creations.


Thank you to the members of the Continuing Education Committee, staff, presenters, and of course attendees for a great conference!

Rochester Library Updates

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 12:41

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by our sister organization, the Rochester Regional Library Council (RRLC). It was the council’s third annual Silo Busting event, and it was a great way to learn about what is happening with libraries in their area. Similar to a large poster session, representatives from libraries had displays showing the new and creative projects they are working on.

The event was held at the Rochester Brainery, an innovative location that describes itself as “a community classroom and event space.” The organizers offer classes on a variety of topics, as well as offering rental space for others looking to hold social or educational events. I think this is a concept that would work great in Buffalo too!






Here is a sampling of what I learned:

The Rochester Public Library is partnering with the Healthi Kids Coalition to create an interactive “Story Walk.” This will include sidewalk graphics, play elements on the pavement, and pages of a story mounted on poles. This graphic shows what the finished project will look like.

The Henrietta Public Library has promoted its programs to kids with the creation of the TR Henri character. The friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared at the Silo Busting event, and he even has his own Facebook profile. (That’s a standard personal Facebook profile, not a “fan page.”)





The Pioneer Library System has added STEM and maker-related programming at its libraries. The Livonia Public Library has MakerSpace programs for 3 different age groups, and the Allen’s Hill Free Library has a robotics club. Items on display included Cublets, a set of blocks that allows easy construction of robots. As Hope Decker, the Member Library Liaison, explained to me, you don’t even need to know much about computers or robots to run these programs, as the children are able to quickly and easily figure out how things work.


NYS Senator Kennedy Proposes ISP Legislation

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 09:59

From the Government Technology blog, with the rollback of internet privacy protections, many states are proposing legislation to protect the data of their constituents. Mentioned in the article is State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo, who introduced legislation that would prohibit ISPs from selling customer browsing history and other personal information to third parties. If you saw our recent LIBTalks video, Sen. Kennedy’s Legislative Director spoke about the state budget process and how libraries can advocate for funding.

Read the entire article.

How Olean Library uses the Library Box

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 15:07

You’ve probably heard of Library Box, the  device that allows you to share content (documents, software files, images) wirelessly, but without needing to connect to wifi. Carol Kowalik-Happy at the Olean Library let us know how her library is using it to distribute tax forms and other documents to patrons:

It resides behind the Reference Desk.  The sign is at various intervals throughout the library.  I trained all staff (librarians and support staff) at our meeting in January before I put it out (just in case they ran in to people with questions.)  Biggest thing at first was patrons thinking it was another regular Wifi connection.  The most popular download to date is a picture of two crocheted Doctors from Doctor Who.


Remember that you can also try out a Library Box, as part of WNYLRC’s Device Lending program. This is great for trying out something before you buy it, or filling a need if you just want to use something for a one-time project.

New LIBTalks Video Series

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 10:47

Join the conversation! Be inspired! Check out the inaugural video of WNYLRC’s LIBTalks!

In an effort to bring together various sectors of the library community in western New York, WNYLRC has initiated a series of TED-type talks that will address a broad range of interests among those who work in libraries of all types.

The intention is to cover topics of current interest that will inform and inspire you and your colleagues to learn from others, share your views, and promote the importance of all our libraries. LIBTalks podcasts will feature a new program and speaker or speakers each month. If there is a speaker or topic you would like to see featured, please let us know!

The WNYLRC LIBTalks have been developed through the collaborative efforts of the Western New York Library Resources Council, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and Amanda & Chris Shepp from the Marion Skidmore Library at Lily Dale.

NYS Librarian Helps Reunite WWII Veteran With Lost Bracelet

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 11:55

A librarian at the Onondaga County Public Library system made the news recently for locating a World War II veteran in her area.

Army Sgt. John Hill, of Syracuse, landed in France on June 7, 1944, a day after the Allied invasion began. During this time, he lost the ID bracelet given to him by his mother. In February this year, Matthieu Delamontte found the bracelet in Normandy. He works in a D-Day museum there, and using the bracelet’s serial number, was able to find out that Hill was from Onondaga County. From there, he worked with Michelle Waltos at the Northern Onondaga public library, who tracked down hill and arranged for the two to meet via Skype.

Read the full story at CNYCentral and Associated Press.