Mobile Wifi Hotspots

I’m getting ready to kick off a few of my new outreach projects this Spring, including roving business reference and a book bike. The one common thread with all of these projects is the WiFi issue. I want to be able to do reference and borrowing services on site no matter where in town I am.

Currently, the library uses Comcast for internet services. While Comcast has some hotspots throughout town (train stations), I’ve found that it’s not always reliable. It seems to go in and out often, and I wonder if this has to do with the volume of use. Some local businesses offer WiFi, too, but I’d prefer to use both of these free services as backups to a personally controlled device.

It took a few searches to come up with the appropriate keywords. It appears that what I’m looking for is a “MiFi,” and Novatel’s device was “Editor’s Choice” a few years back:,2817,2385018,00.asp

xfinity MiFi

xfinity MiFi

According to some articles published in 2011, Comcast only charges $25 for the device. Naturally, a search of their site doesn’t show any pages with purchase details. When I chatted with a rep, she said that Comcast still has the MiFi. I can find it by looking on “” Ha. I didn’t have time to ask for a direct webpage and signed off. I plan to look more into the costs, etc. after the holidays.

Here’s to 2015 being the year of fun, busy, effective outreach!


Virtual business space @ your library

The one renovation desire that I have is for a virtual office space for patrons. It would be a space for people to “work from home” while enjoying all the necessities of an actual office: comfy seating, space to spread out documents, outlets always nearby, updated scanner/copier/fax machine, the ability to use cell phones, and maybe even a chance to collaborate.

I’m currently sitting in a local business that offers such a place for a price. They have a free Friday offer for newbies, so I thought I’d infiltrate and gather intel. I think this may be two hours of my life that I’m not getting back.

I honestly don’t see a benefit to working in their social business space versus the current library structure. Other than the ability to use your phone and a handy kitchen, the space itself is inadequate. Not only do the bright red tables have a distracting glare from the lights above, the seat is beginning to hurt my bum after about 90 minutes and I’m not a fan of chairs on rollers (I think it might be a short-person problem).

There’s also a TV that I keep catching out of the corner of my eye. Being a newbie and not wanting to step above my rank, I left the sound on until a regular opted to mute it. If I wanted these distractions, I’d just…work from home. This home office has led me to be more counterproductive that I had hoped.

I also think our library has already one-upped this business by providing mobile printing, which allows patrons to print wirelessly from their laptops. I see no option here and wonder, should I want to print, how I go about that. No clear information was given or appears readily available. [Note to self: signage and directions regarding technology usage must be easily visible.] Not that it matters because I’m running out of juice and there are only three outlets in view–none of which are easily accessible save for a few seats across the room.

But maybe it’s just me. The seats are 1/4 full so far and everyone seems to be plugging away at their respective endeavors. I wonder if, once a more accurately developed virtual office is in place at the library, people will opt for the free workspace. We shall see.

Be respectful when using the 1st Amendment, i.e. don’t be a jerk

2014-07-01 09Our library recently installed a 4’x4′ veggie and herb garden. While small, it notates the nutritional benefits of the plants in the garden and gives those without means the opportunity to see and taste fresh produce. We also plan to use the garden as a jumping-off point for healthy eating programming. Obesity is an epidemic and our library is happy to support nutritional education.

One patron apparently disagrees. Following our eNewsletter that included a photo of the new garden, we received a nasty email in response: “Wow… a 16 square foot vegetable and herb garden!   That’s absolutely idiotic.”

I responded by thanking him for the feedback, reasserting the purpose of the garden, and welcoming him to continue giving us feedback so we can effectively serve *every* member of our community. Just because you don’t practice healthy eating or care about the kids in our community, doesn’t mean that you should vehemently insult us.

Being a reference librarian, I naturally looked up who this guy was. Turns out that there are a thousand stereotypes that I could probably say about this patron, but it is not up to me to judge his interests. As librarians, we support all forms of information and education. It’s just a shame that he thinks the library should only align with his beliefs.

The patron has also not responded to my reply. Funny how often people are eager to attack online with sarcasm, but rarely step up to have a legitimate discussion. If it’s a bad idea, tell us why. We’ll listen and adjust if necessary. But we certainly won’t adjust simply because you’re an ass.

[P.S. I’m amazed at how many folks are even more upset than I am about this email. Anywhere from “I can’t believe someone would do that” to “he should be put in the ground.” Cheers to free speech.]

Homebrew 101 a success!

Homebrew 101 flyer

Homebrew 101 flyer

Having wanted to do a homebrew class at a library for years, I finally got it done. I think it’s important to include programs that introduce lifelong learning at any age and on any topic (that is legal and ethical of course). Compared to typical educational programs for adults, a homebrewing program has a better shot at re-introducing the library into the lives of those 20-40-somethings who don’t have a relationship with us.

Thanks to NJ Beer Co’s Dennis Maciupa (their Brewer’s Apprentice) and Paul Silverman, and a colleague who came in on a day off in support of beer, the program had patrons engaged and entertained. It didn’t take too much work and the greatest expense was the $150 social affair permit.

We had 27 people attend. I made it registration required so that we could keep it more intimate; but registration is new for adult programs at the library and this isn’t the first time that more people just showed up. I had to turn them away as well as field phone calls all morning explaining that we were full.

Cheers to having another program this fall/winter!


But what most p…

But what most people don’t know is how much time and effort goes into curating these accounts, writing tweets, and filling your news feed with content people actually want to see. For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, and get approval for one corporate social media post.

Read more:

Really interesting article about the time it takes to develop an effective social media campaign. I think libraries are still struggling with how to use the online world to their advantage. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. accounts are used without much strategy behind them.

The following link provides some industry-specific statistics based on Facebook engagement data:

I plan to share with our virtual services librarian and the librarian who handles our postings. While we fall under the “nonprofit” industry label, public libraries involve many other industries when it comes to programming and resources. It might be interesting to develop a strategy that takes into account where each post falls in terms of subject, i.e. maybe our financial literacy programming should be timed to coincide with the best times determined for the financial industry.

Anyway, enjoy!


“Hotspot at Home” Program

“Hotspot at Home” Program

Chicago PL is trying to get a grant to fund a program whereby patrons in low-income communities can loan out an internet hotspot.

I can’t imagine how they’ll be able to coordinate such an effort. I also wonder if they’ll have some sort of income contingency, or a “hold list” with a limit to how many times a family can check it out each year. But what a terrific way to really reach out to serve information needs. Makes my outreach efforts pale in comparison.