Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

Designed to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of enriching communication with their babies, ALSC is launching the Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play public-awareness campaign. The campaign is kicking off with free and customizable resources that offer caregivers instant, fun ways to boost their children’s language base and build all-important pathways for learning.

YOU can participate in the Babies Need Words Every Day campaign by printing the following FREE and customizable resources and partnering with local business, community organizations, hospitals, and other public buildings to display and pass out resources.

Project resources include…

8 beautifully designed posters that deliver simple, effective rhymes, games, and other suggestions for immediate ways to interact with babies.

via Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).

Looking for some encouraging words for new parents? Try these posters!

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Everylibrary Wants You To Register Your Voters. I do too

Imagine if all your library’s users were registered voters? Well, on September 22nd, 2015, librarians have a great opportunity to offer a “program” to register voters on site complete with volunteers and marketing. A large number of libraries around the country will be participating in the event and we want you to participate too. All you have to do is go to the national website and click on the link to become a partner to allow volunteers to come to the library and sign people up. The NVRD will send you marketing materials, teach your staff how to register voters (if you go that route), and the volunteers will take care of all of the paperwork. This is a non-partisan effort supported by organizations like; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Education Fund, Bus Federation Civic Fund, Fair Elections Legal Network, League of Women Voters, Nonprofit VOTE, Rock the Vote, and Voto Latino.

via Is Your Library Involved in National Voter Registration Day.

EveryLibrary is pushing participation in the non partisan national voter registration day on September 22nd. As an individual librarian active in my associations, I think this is a great activity for libraries to be a part of and I hope you sign your library up for it.

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Scratch Week 4: Tag, You’re It

I have now finished four out of 10 units in Harvey Mudd’s Programming in Scratch course on edX. I think I’ve done enough to recommend it to libraries and schools looking to teach the basics of programming for all ages. A combination of quick results and repetition of key concepts seems like it will be helpful to most people. While programs written in Scratch aren’t something you can easily run elsewhere, the way of thinking taught by programming in Scratch should be transferable to other languages. And it does allow for the creation of an online portfolio.

Week 4 was “Coordinates and Conditionals” where we learned a lot about if then statements and things we could when objects touched each other. It is part of what I need to know to construct a successful jigsaw puzzle.

To show that we understood the concepts behind the lessons, we had to code a game of tag. It’s not stellar because both characters are controlled by the same keyboard. But it does have some nice teleportation effects.

I don’t know if I’ll come back to this without the courseware asking me too, but if I did, I would automate the cat’s movements. I did something similar in my edX CS50x project laser toy.  The “laser toy” motion solution won’t work in this program because in “laser toy” the cat’s motion was controlled by the position of the toy. I need something to move the cat randomly while you try to tag him with the ball.

One of the other things I like about the course is that a number of the class assignments do make me think about coming back and extending them. That’s better than assignments that leave you feeling like “Thank God it’s done! Never want to go back to it again!” Colleen Lewis’ approach makes you want to do more. I think this is great.

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Week 3: HarveyMuddX: CS002x Programming in Scratch, comes with a baby music keyboard

After a June hiatus, I’m back at working my way though HarveyMuddX: CS002x Programming in Scratch. Week 3 was devoted to variables and some specialized event controls.  For the most part it was easy for me because I’m familiar with the course material. But I enjoyed the review, which revolved around music notes and tempo. I think a new student would pick up the material quickly for two reasons – the concepts are weaved around immediate results students can get and the instructions are interwoven with short exercises.

As a student of computer science back in my undergrad days, one of my problems is that my coding exercises didn’t involve things that I found interesting. While I realize that eventually all programmers will have to write code that bores them, I don’t think that’s a good place to start. I think instructor Colleen Lewis is taking the right approach in offering tasks likely to appeal to a broad range of students. Hold our interest as we learn and review stuff, then we’ll have the skills to conquer the dull programming tasks ahead.

Or extend the cool stuff. One of the exercises was to build a very simple electronic music keyboard. You can find mine on the Scratch site. Right now it only plays four notes as that what was asked for in the Week 3 exercise. But I’ve already wired it to adjust volume and tempo. I also have a few ideas for changing the instrument being played, but I don’t have time to follow-up today. Mapping additional notes to keys will be dead easy.

But the point is, the exercises sparked my interest enough that I want to build on the exercise. I’d be more motivated if I read music, but I think expanding the keyboard will be fun. If not for me, perhaps for others.

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WiFi Analyzer for Android: Useful tool for mapping library wifi coverage

I’ve been working through the course Up and Running With Wireless Networking that mentioned a tool I think could be useful to libraries. It’s called WiFi Analyzer for Android and is available from the Google Play Store.

The default view is the channel graph, that shows all of the wifi networks within range of your phone along with their relative strengths. But the view that I’m recommending is the Signal Meter view, which you can get to by clicking on the eye icon near the top of the app, then selecting Signal Meter which gives you a needle on a curved, colored spectrum.

I have a Linksys E2500 dual band router, meaning that it broadcasts on both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. It sits in my living room. So I fired up the app chose my wifi router from the half dozen in my condo building, and went walking around our condo to these locations:

Living Room opposite the router where my writing desk is. It’s by a window:

Middling wifi in living room

Middling wifi by my writing desk in the living room.

Kitchen – No electronics except my cell phone:

Great wifi in Kitchen,.

Great wifi signal! But no good space to use for devices.

Master Bedroom – home of my wife’s laptop and sometimes mine too:

Middling wifi in the master bedroom

Middling wifi where we like to unwind, read off the ‘net and stream video. We could be doing better but works most of the time.

Second Bedroom – Where my wireless printer lives. It sometimes falls off the network:

Crummy wifi next to wireless printer

Now I think I know why my printer drops off the network as much as it does.

So in my house the strongest signal is where I have nowhere to put a laptop or anything but maybe an iPad on the stove. I have a middling signal that works well enough where my spouse and I use our main computers. But the closest room to a dead spot I have is where my wireless printer lives. Not a good situation, especially since the printer itself is balkier than I’d like.

In a similar way, you could carry your phone around the library along with a simple map and map out the hot and cold wifi spots in your library. As a bonus, you could step outside and see where wifi is usable. Then either give your patrons an outdoor space, or take measures to block the signal so people have to come in.

So now you have your library wifi map. Now what? If you like your area of coverage, rest on your laurels and map again in six months or so. If you don’t like your coverage, you have a few options:

  1. Move your router into an open space. Whilewifi signals can go through walls, bookcases and other obstacles, that will degrade the signal. The more direct line of sight people with mobile devices have to the router the better.
    1. If your wifi router is in a closet, you’re not giving your patrons the best speeds and connectivity.
  2. Move obstacles. Wifi finds it harder to go through metal, brick, concrete, glass and water. So if there are metal filing cabinets, fish tanks or mirrors between your wifi router and where you expect patrons to use their devices, move them.
  3. Look for sources of interference – microwaves, baby monitors and some phones use the same frequency bands as many wifi routers. Move these away from your routers.

When you’ve made your changes, map your library again and see if where you want your patrons to use their devices has a strong signal.

I hope you’ll find these tips and the WiFi Analyzer app helpful. I’d like to hear from you on what worked and what did not. As of this writing, the WiFi Analyzer app was not available for iPhone. There are similar apps available, but I haven’t tested any. If there’s one you like that’s well reviewed, let me know.

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#alaac15 #alacouncil All My Councilor Reports

As the Alaska Chapter Councilor, I blogged about ALA Council sessions as a way of reporting back to my members. I’ve listed all my posts for the 2015 Annual Conference below:

Feel free to post questions or comments here.

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#alaac15 #alacouncil III.2 – Guns. Again

The last topic from Council III of the American Library Association (ALA) 2015 Annual Conference I want to cover is the gun violence resolution we ultimately passed over the objections of me and a handful of other Councilors.

The gun violence resolution story started with our ALA Membership meeting on Saturday, 6/27/2015. This is a place where any member may bring a resolution on any topic. People who attend vote on the resolution. If a resolution passes, Council picks it up for possible endorsement.

The membership resolution on gun violence was narrowly voted down at the membership meeting. I was present at the meeting and voted no for the following reasons:

  • I do not see a consensus across membership on the desirability of gun control.
  • The resolution committed ALA to fight for federal gun control laws. I think it has enough on its plate with library/privacy/copyright issues.
  • I felt chapters in Red states would feel the brunt of legislative anger on this issue.

Others thought the resolution went too far in condemning gun owners and/or felt it was too broadly written.

I thought that was the end of it. But the sponsor, a Councilor, brought the resolution to Council. She started by gathering feedback on why it failed. Then she and others rewrote the resolution to narrow it down. Now it would only commit ALA to advocating open carry opt out for libraries. This came after a number of personal accounts of intimidation through open carry.

After reworking, it was brought to us at Council III in the form of CD#45 Resolution on Gun Violence. It was amended a few times to tone down more of the “evil gun owner” rhetoric and to put ALA in the position of assisting state chapters in opposing library open carry.

A member of the Committee on Legislation pointed out that open carry laws were a state issue and that ALA did not have the resources to lobby on a state level. I completely agreed with that. I used my debate time to point out that it should be up to the state chapters whether to take up this issue without input from Big ALA. One of the supporters for the resolution, who spoke before I did, likened a states-right argument to support for segregation back in the 1960s. I politely disagreed.

In the end, only about five of us out of 150ish voted against the resolution, which passed overwhelmingly. When I become aware of a link to the amended resolution, I’ll share it.

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