WNYLRC Newsletter

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News and stories from the WNY library community
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D4L Review and Announcement

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:48

In 2015, I signed up for Design for Learning (D4L) an online course that taught library workers how to design instruction and teach online. It was created through a partnership of the Empire State Library Network and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, with funding from an IMLS grant.


I was in the second cohort, and the class was taught on the Moodle course management system. I have done a lot of teaching in-person, and presented a handful of webinars, but this dealt with a different kind of education – asynchronous online learning, where not all students are viewing the content at the same time. This was new to me, so I definitely learned a lot of new strategies and techniques. I particularly got a lot of information out of the second module, the “Foundation” module, which got into the nuts & bolts of planning the course content and how to deliver it.

As the project manager for Ask Us 24/7, New York State’s cooperative chat reference service, I used that as material for my capstone project, where we had to develop part of a real online course. This project became the basis for a course that WNYLRC is offering in October: Online Searching for Librarians Doing Virtual Reference. You can sign up on our website, like all of our workshops, and will later receive a login to our course space on WNYLRC’s Moodle site.

D4L has now been adapted for, and moved to, Webjunction, as a self-paced course. I highly recommend it if you want to learn how to teach online.

Libraries and the Opioid Epidemic

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 15:41

As you probably know, an epidemic of opioid addiction that’s sweeping the country. But you don’t have to be a doctor or counselor to help fight it. Let’s see how librarians can help.

In our latest LIBTalks video, Tom Vitale of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System provided a wealth of information on what libraries and librarians can do. This includes providing patrons with informational resources, and being involved in local task groups. He also touches on the controversial topic of libraries keeping the anti-overdose drug Narcan on hand. Check out the video description to see several links that Tom provided us, where you can learn even more.

And on the blog for OverDrive, they recently published an article titled How Librarians are helping to combat America’s Opioid Crisis. It provides several reading lists (of books available through OverDrive) that cover different aspects of the topic.

American Libraries, the official ALA publication, also wrote about this recently. Saving Lives in the Stacks highlights how the epidemic is affecting various libraries across the country.

Locally, libraries are getting involved too. The Central Library in Rochester recently hosted a community discussion about the crisis. And the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has hosted several workshops from the Erie County Department of Health, on how to spot an overdose and the use of Narcan. There’s one coming up on September 12th.

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!