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News and stories from the WNY library community
Updated: 16 min 41 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.

Women’s History Month – Local Resources

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 15:56

March is Women’s History Month, and if you are looking for primary sources, especially ones related to local women’s history, New York Heritage is the place to look.

UB’s University Archives has been digitizing a series of women’s history collections, and just in time for Women’s History Month, the latest collection is now online: Zonta International. The name may not be familiar to you, but the Zonta Club of Buffalo was the first club (founded in 1919) in what is now Zonta International, a leading global organization of women professionals. The collection includes 200 photographs, documents and other items showing the club’s history.

UB’s first collection in the series was the Twentieth Century Club. This was one of the first private clubs for women in the United States, and was founded in 1894. The collection chronicles not only the history of events in Buffalo, but also the enormous societal changes which have occurred in its lifespan.

The remaining collection in UB’s series is Junior League of Buffalo, the local chapter of the worldwide volunteering organization for women. The chapter is still going strong and will be celebrating a centennial in 2019.

Other WNY institutions have appropriate collections for this topic as well. The Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village has a collection of the League of Women Voters of Amherst. The materials, from BNHV’s holdings, include newsletters, newspaper articles, publications, meeting minutes and scrapbooks.

Heading out a little farther across the state, here are two more collections of note. Women of Fayetteville is from the local history room at the Fayetteville Library. In addition to photos of daily life from the 19th century, it includes the archive of the Coterie, a women’s study group established in 1885 that continues to meet regularly to this day.

The Lesbian Herstory Archives is an archive located in the NYC area. The digital collection includes snapshots, professional photography, and found images. Many of the materials came to us from women who simply wanted their images saved, their lives remembered.

If your library or institution is doing any activities related to Women’s History Month, make sure to visit these digital collections and recommend them to your patrons too.

Researching the Empire State Writing Competition

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 10:00

The Empire State Library Network (which comprises WNYLRC and the 8 other library councils in the state) is pleased to initiate its second annual Researching the Empire State Writing Competition.

The purpose of the Researching the Empire State Writing Competition is to encourage original research and publication around cultural, social, and political topics of New York history utilizing the digital collections developed by the Empire State Library Network: NYS Historic Newspapers and New York Heritage, as well as by use of New York’s many other scholarly resources.

Consider entering the contest yourself, or encouraging your patrons or students. The winner receives a certificate, publication on the Empire State Library Network web site, a $1,000 cash prize, and  registration to the New York State Archives Conference in Utica to present their research.

Read all the details at the contest page on ESLN.org.


Niagara Falls Library Grows on the Go

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:52

by Joanna Battaglia, Niagara Falls Public Library

Grow on the Go is an exciting collaboration between the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Eat Smart New York and the Niagara Falls Public Library. Patrons at the Niagara Falls Public Library were able to sign up for a shopping cart full of seeds and healthy vegetable seedlings. We had a Planting Party to get everyone started followed by biweekly Cart Clinics at the library to brainstorm common garden problems and plan meals with the bounty.

We were thrilled to be able to offer this program in an urban environment with many apartment dwellers and renters who face challenges in both gardening and access to healthy food. Providing a mobile garden to those who don’t have much green space helps get healthy food from their front porch to their plates in no time. Our participants loved being able to literally watch their garden grow throughout the summer, and so did we. This year the program will be expanding to the LaSalle Branch of the Niagara Falls Public Library and the Doris Jones Family Resource Center.

Here is is some of the media coverage of the program:

WKBW – “Grow on the Go” promotes healthy eating in Niagara Falls
Buffalo News – Shopping carts set course for healthier diets in Niagara Falls
Buffalo Healthy Living – Grow on the Go
WBLK – Grow on the Go Program in Niagara Falls Helps Those in Need
Niagara Gazette – Grow a garden in a cart!


Our New A/V Setup

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 10:48

At WNYLRC, we’ve upgraded the technology in our Board Room and Training Center, allowing for easier presenting, screen sharing, and meeting remotely. If you want a video tour, take a look at our latest YouTube video in which I give brief demonstrations of the equipment (and featuring a cameo from my dog, Ash). Or scroll down past the video for some photos.

In the board room, we have a monitor rather than a projector, so people sitting near the wall won’t have light shining in their eyes. And that’s a webcam above the monitor, so we can use Skype or other software for meetings where some people can’t attend in person.


And that’s a wireless keyboard and mouse near the bottom of the picture. Now you can control the presenter computer from anywhere in the room, rather than having to sit apart from the rest of the group.

A new keypad on the wall lets us use various ways to present. Someone can bring in their own laptop and connect via HDMI, VGA, or wirelessly with a USB device.


In the training center, we have a brand new projector with twice the brightness of the old one. Plus it’s a short-throw, meaning it’s a bit closer to the screen, so there is less space where the presenter will have the light in their eyes.

And again, there’s a keypad on the wall that lets us use various methods to connect to a laptop or other device. For that “wireless” option, we use a device called a Barco Clickshare.

This connects to a laptop through a USB port, and transmits what’s on the screen wirelessly to the projector. Up to four people can use them at once, making it easy to alternate between multiple presenters. You can see a brief demonstration in our video above, or check out this one-minute video from Barco to get the idea.

We can’t wait to start using this equipment at upcoming workshops and meetings. Make sure to check out our workshop schedule so you can come and see it in person.

Daemen President Published in Huffington Post

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 12:02

From Heidi Bamford, WNYLRC’s Outreach & Member Services Coordinator:

President Gary A. Olson of Daemen College recently published an article in the Huffington Post titled The Unintended Consequences of Free Tuition. The very thoughtful and insightful article from the leadership of one of our WNYLRC member institutions highlights the need for policy makers and government representatives to take a much broader look at the impact certain proposals may have on all parts of the education system. It also points out that conversations with academic institutions are critical in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the stakes involved.

WNYLRC feels that the libraries are also a critical part of the conversation since they are best positioned to assess and address literacy skills gaps in the student body. Without basic literacy skills, no amount of money will keep students enrolled in school or prepare them to be productive in the workforce. WNYLRC wishes Governor Cuomo would acknowledge the role libraries play in K-12 and higher education and that libraries are education too and critical for the development of information literacy. WNYLRC would have preferred his proposed budget reflected a strategy to strengthen the ability of libraries to do their jobs in service of education.


The Unintended Consequences of Free Tuition Proposals
01/25/2017 12:20 pm ET
Gary A. Olson President, Daemen College

Standing beside senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made national news when he announced this month the most recent in a growing number of free college tuition proposals. Coming on the heels of similar proposals by Sanders, presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Cuomo’s “Excelsior Scholarship Program” would provide… Read the rest on Huffington Post.

Microfilming a Current Newspaper? WNYLRC’s Lawyer Comments

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 16:04

WNYLRC’s Ask the Lawyer allows you to email your question to our lawyer for professional, legal help. Every so often, we’ll be posting questions received (with no identifying information from the sender) and our lawyer’s response, for everyone to learn from. Check out this fascinating analysis of copyright with regard to current newspapers.

Member Question

Our local newspaper of record used to microfilm itself (using a third party vendor) for their own use in their private archives. I’m not sure what terms they had with the microfilm vendor, but it was relatively inexpensive for the public library to purchase a copy from the microfilming company for daily use. The newspaper has come under new ownership and longer microfilms itself. My first question is whether I understand 17 U.S.C. §108 correctly. Does paragraph A give libraries the right to make 1 analog copy of pretty much anything they own? Or, in this case, to microfilm the newspapers we have on hand? And does paragraph C give us the right to make up to 3 more microfilm copies, for preservation purposes? It would be our position that newsprint is always deteriorating (we have no climate control storage space to preserve a long run; people steal issues and cut out articles) and after “a reasonable effort” there will be nowhere else from where we can buy a pristine back run “at a fair price”…. Must we enter negotiations with the publisher to secure the right?

WNYLRC Attorney’s Response

A community library’s role in archiving and creating access to local news is critical, but changing technology, uncertainly of ownership, and costs can make the legal aspects of the process uncertain. The member’s questions, set out below, are on the forefront of this issue: how do libraries position themselves to preserve and provide access to published local news?

Section 108 of the Copyright Code was created to balance the rights of copyright owners with the access and preservation of their works, including newspapers. It allows for the copying of sections, whole works—and in some cases, the creation of multiple copies of whole works—by libraries and archives. The first question from our member sets the stage for this issue:

Does Section 108, sub-section (a) give libraries the right to make 1 analog copy of pretty much anything they own?

The answer is to this opening question is: No…Section 108’s application is broad, but it might not apply to your whole collection. The final paragraph (sub-section “i”) of the law contains some big exceptions: musical works, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, or films/AV works (excluding news). So, while there are certainly limitations to these limitations (mostly for ADA access, as provided for in other parts fo the law), sub-section (i) means that not “all” parts of a collection may be fully copied.

That being said, exclusive of the exceptions in sub-section (i), under Section 108 (a), ONE copy can be made, so long as the library is open to the public, the copy is not made for commercial gain, and the copyright to the work is attributed—along with a notice that the copy was made per section 108. This is a critical protection for libraries, library staff, and patrons. However, the duplication it allows is balanced with the rights of copyright holders…and a careful read shows it was also drafted by congress to support certain actions in the “market place” (i.e. commercial archiving). This takes us to the next 2 questions.

[Can we] microfilm the newspapers we have on hand?

Answer: Yes. The creation of one copy of a published newspaper falls squarely under sub-section (a).

And does sub-section (c) give us the right to make up to 3 more (microfilm) copies, for preservation purposes?

Sub-section (c) is the section that allows for multiple copies to be made under certain circumstances. Applying the criteria of the sub-section, I regret to say the answer to this is “no.”

Rights under sub-section (c) only apply if the original (or copy of the original) is “damaged, deteriorating, lost, or stolen…”—or if they are embodied on an obsolete format, and that after a reasonable effort, an unused replacement can’t be purchased [a format is “obsolete” “if the machine or device necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.”]. This formula is not a good fit with a recently published work.

However, in raising the question, the member raised an interesting and practical argument: It would be our position that newsprint is always deteriorating (we have no climate control storage space to preserve a long run; people steal issues and cut out articles, etc.) and “after a reasonable effort” there will be nowhere else from where we can buy a pristine back run “at a fair price” (ie. for less than the price of striking another microfilm).

For a question like this, it is best to go straight to the source: the Library of Congress circulars. The Circular on section 108 can be found at https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf

In relevant part, it states:

Subsection (c) authorizes the reproduction of a published work duplicated in facsimile form solely for the purpose of replacement of a copy or phonorecord that is damaged, deteriorating, lost or stolen, if the library or archives has, after a reasonable effort, determined that an unused replacement cannot be obtained at a fair price. The scope and nature of a reasonable investigation to determine that an unused replacement cannot be obtained will vary according to the circumstances of a particular situation. It will always require recourse to commonly-known trade sources in the United States, and in the normal situation also to the publisher or other copyright owner (if such owner can be located at the address listed in the copyright registration), or an authorized reproducing service.

As can be seen, the delicate nature of newspapers and library capacity issues non-withstanding, proceeding under sub-section (c) without certainly that there is no commercial alternative does not meet the sub-sections’ requirements. The law is clear: the copies can be made only after the good-faith determination that no commercial alternative exists.

It is cumbersome, but saving a copy of the paper, and then establishing, on a routine basis, that back copies, digital archives, and third-party microfilm versions of the newspaper are not commercially available, meet sub-section (c)’s commercial determination requirements. This is an essential element of the law and cannot be left out, or there will be no infringement defense under sub-section (c).

The final question brings this all home: We really just want to start microfilming 2 copies of the paper…. Can we? Or must we enter negotiations with the publisher to secure the right?

Neither sub-section (a) nor (c) require permission from the copyright holder, so libraries do not need to ask the new owner before using the 108 exceptions as set forth above. However, as the question implies, a library seeking to go beyond what is authorized by the law would need to work with the rights holder. Hopefully, the publisher can see the value in allowing the two copies to be created, and will agree to an irrevocable license to the library, for the benefit of its patrons.

How SUNY Buffalo State Deals with Controversial Collections

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 12:32

Hope Dunbar, Archivist at SUNY Buffalo State, is the Issues & Advocacy Section chair for the Society of American Archivists. She recently wrote about how she deals with controversial collections and has granted us permission to publish it here too.

Dealing With Controversial Collections – The Remnants of Racist Artifacts and Objects
by Hope Dunbar

The materials that comprise the Lester Glassner African American Experience Collection were gifted to the SUNY Buffalo State Archive & Special Collections in 2009 upon Mr. Glassner’s death. From his late teens onward he collected dime store memorabilia and other pop-culture artifacts until his collection amassed many rooms within his New York apartment and numbered into the hundreds of thousands. A significant portion of his collection centered on black memorabilia—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Collection items range from 1850 to 2005 and include a staggering span of African American depictions in pop culture within the United States.

Upon the donation of the collection, the Archives & Special Collections had to determine how this material would be treated. Would it be displayed? Would it remain in the collection? Many items, most of the collection, depict patently racists images ranging from Sambo, Mammy, Uncle Rastus, and general “pickaninny” depictions. Archivists and librarians adhere to codes of conduct and ethics developed by both regional and national organizations, including SAA. We are taught through coursework and practical experience the complex nature of archival assessment and collection development, however we are rarely told what to do with offensive items. If we have tackled such topics, it is likely in our direct work with donors, patrons, and administration, as opposed to a formal introduction through classroom instruction.

In this instance, the Archive & Special Collections decided that the act of repressing such images would be to pretend such images, and consequently such opinions, did not exist. Instead, we framed the collection through the lens of discussion. These artifacts exist, they were produced to a mass market, and they depict cultural understandings of a historical period. Lester Glassner’s collection is extensive because he documented a full range of African American depictions through various time periods. He insisted the collection remain intact to provide context to the patron and student. Later items include positive representations such as African American Barbies, Santas, action figures, soldiers, and individual character depictions, such as Star Wars’ Mace Windu, Kendra from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Morpheus from The Matrix.

A selection are displayed in the main reading room and students who visit the department are encouraged to join the active discussion as we talk about the background and how the collection informs or clashes with their cultural perspectives. In addition, our collection page includes the historical background of the collection written by a former archivist in the department, again, to give context to the items.