Galecia Video: Exploring IMLS Public Library Survey Data

Followers of our blog know that we're big fans of the Institute for Museum and Library Science (IMLS) library survey data releases -- these are the most comprehensive sources of data about public libraries in the United States.  So we were very excited this week to see that the FY2017 survey results have been released on the IMLS.gov website!

Not sure how to get started analyzing PLS data?  Check out this video where we introduce the data included in the survey and associated documentation.

 

Providing Information After a Disaster

When a disaster strikes, information can be just as valuable as water, power, or critical supplies!  Learn more about how your library can provide information and access following a disaster.

Providing Public Internet Access At The Library

One of the most critical requirements after a disaster is the restoration of communications with the outside world, and these days, that means the Internet.  While first responders, whether at the local, state, or federal level, may have their own data and communications infrastructure,  libraries can still provide access for responders, volunteers, and survivors.  Internet access is critical after a disaster for:

  • filing government disaster benefits claims
  • filing insurance claims and other paperwork
  • communicating with friends/family outside the disaster zone
  • coordinating volunteers and support from outside the disaster zone

Because Internet access is so important during a disaster, it may be necessary to expand opportunities for leveraging the library’s connectivity.

Analyzing IMLS Data to Find Your Peer Libraries

"Peer analysis" is a tool used in finance, management, and even sports -- and you do it unconsciously all the time.  We're simply finding the similar items in a large dataset by one or more dimensions, and then seeing how they compare in other dimensions.  In other words, if you're the director of a small library in Ruraltown, Nebraska, you don't want to compare your library's collection numbers to those larger library systems in Omaha and Nebraska.

Using IMLS Data to Help Save IMLS

"The Opportunity Project" - Free Toolkit and Examples For Community Digital Projects!

Are you going to build a community digital project, like a new online app or map for your city or region?  Make sure to check out the project toolkit from the US Census Bureau's "The Opportunity Project" for some great tips and resources!  The toolkit includes helpful explanations of the chief steps of planning, building, and supporting a digital product or service - and since it's provided by the Census Bureau, there are tons of links to data sources from federal, state, and local sources.

"Libraries Count!" - Why the 2020 Census Matters to Public Libraries

Something big is coming in 2020 - and we're not talking about the presidential election or the Olympics... it's the decennial US census!  And libraries have a critical role to play to ensure that their communities are represented in the census data, and the resulting program dollars that will flow.  Thankfully, the US Census Bureau and other organizations are working together to help everyone be counted fairly.

Using "Arches" for mapping historical and cultural resources!

You can create simple online maps using free tools like Google's My Maps, but for serious collections of local landmarks, or historical/cultural resources, you'll need something more powerful, such as the custom platform that we built for Chicago Ancestors.  I recently came across the open source platform "Arches," popularized by a digital history project in Los Angeles, that provides powerful geodata management capabilities perfect for digital humanities projects.

 

Data.gov, IMLS, and Other Library Services Fall Victim to Federal Shutdown

If you haven't visited the Data.gov website before, you'll need to wait until the federal government re-opens to check out the thousands of free public government dataset that used to be available to explore and download.  And if your library or community uses that data for an application or project - you already know that you're out of luck!  (In the meantime, you can still read our 2017 Public Library Quarterly article about open data in the library.)

Accessibility: Screen Readers in the Library

Our last blog post about accessibility focused on making sure that your website was easy to access by people that use assistive technologies, such as screen readers, which read aloud what's on a computer screen to users with low or no vision.  I recently attended a fantastic webinar on actual screen reader software itself by Kelsey Flynn of the White Oak Public Library District in Illinois, presented through the LITA webinar series.  Kelsey covered some of the basics of accessibility software, including deep dives into the five most popular screen reader titles.

Some of my key takeaways:

Know Before You Legislate!

Remember the famous viral clip of a Senator on the floor of the Senate holding aloft a snowball as proof that climate change was surely a hoax, or the meme-inspiring "the Internet is not a big truck; it's a series of tubes" quote from a different Senator?  Well, those zany congresspeople were at it again during last month's Congressional hearings with Google:

This clip might be late night comedy fodder, and many people are correctly pointing out that the specific question isn't really answered by whether the device was an Android or an iPhone -- but it proves a greater point that our legislators are often woefully misinformed about the technology that they are quick to regulate.  That wasn't always the case, and it doesn't have to be the case now.