Category Archives: ALA

3D Printers for Libraries

I spent yesterday hanging out at the GigTank Demo Day, listening to 3D printing startups pitch their ideas and companies at investors. It was a fantastic event, as is normal for things that the Company Lab is running, and I had a good time listening to the excitement around 3D printing as a technology.

It made me want to look back and see how long I’ve been following this technology, and I was dumbfounded to discover that the first mention of 3D printing on this very blog was in 2006. In October of 2006 I posted about a company called Fabjectory that was way ahead of the curve in providing 3D printing as a service for people. Then, not quite a year later I held the first 3D printed object that I’d ever touched, and it happened to be a print of myself as a Nintendo Mii. That was in August of 2007!

In 2011 I was asked to record a video by the LITA Top Tech Trends committee as an experiment for doing some information updates on technology between ALA Annual and Midwinter, and the trend I pointed to was 3D printing.

There’s a lot more that I’ve written over the years, ranging from my interviews with Bre Pettis (CEO of Makerbot Industries) about libraries and 3D printing to reporting last year for American Libraries on the 3D printing news from CES 2014.

3D Printers for Libraries

All this time and interest in the technology is coming to head in the publication of a new Library Technology Report that I have written on 3D printing, called 3D Printers for Libraries. In it I explain all of the varieties of 3D printing and 3D printers, from the inexpensive fused-deposition printers that most libraries are installing to the highest end Electron Beam Melting printers that are used to produce medical-grade implants. I go through the pros and cons of a variety of manufacturers, and make suggestions for libraries who are just getting started in offering 3D printing as a service.

If your library is looking at starting to offer 3D printing, this is a good reference work to help you make some decisions about types of printers and pitfalls and problems you may see with them. If your library would like some help in making decisions like this, or in figuring out how  to offer 3D printing to your patrons, feel free to contact me (griffey at gmail.com or @griffey on Twitter). I’d love to help you get to a place where your staff is confident in offering 3D printing as a new technology offering from your library.

SparkFun @ ALA Annual 2014 – Hardware and Coding!

ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas is going to be a fantastic conference for a ton of reasons, but at least one of those reasons is that there is a new exhibitor that anyone interested in technology, coding, and general hardware hackery should get to know: SparkFun Electronics.

SparkFun is a company that not only makes awesome hardware and hardware kits, they have an amazing educational wing that works with schools and libraries to teach Maker skills to people across the country. I had the opportunity back in February to visit and learn from Sparkfun along with a handful of other Chattanooga librarians you may have heard of. Their educational materials are top-notch, and they are happy to work with libraries who want to teach Arduino, coding, soft circuits, and a few dozen other projects.

At ALA Annual they will be in the exhibit hall, Booth 1870, and will have a ton of interesting stuff to look at and play with. Sparkfun’s Jeff Branson along with Nate Hill from the Chattanooga Public Library will also be taking part in the LITA Library Code Year Interest Group Technology Speed Dating event on Saturday, June 28, in the Las Vegas Convention Center Room N119. That looks like an incredible lineup of presenters, and will be a great program.

In addition to all of that, they will be hosting a number of short classes in the Networking Uncommons if you want to get a quick 1/2 hour introduction to Arduino, AruBlock, Scratch, or Processing…or if you want to stick around for the whole shebang and have a 2 hour block of technology awesomeness. They will be doing two classes of each:

Saturday, June 28 – Networking Uncommons
3-3:30 Ardublock
3:30-4:00 Arduino
4:00-4:30 Scratch
4:30-5:00 Processing

Monday, June 30 – Networking Uncommons
10-10:30 Ardublock
10:30-11:00 Arduino
11:00-11:30-Scratch
11:30-12:00- Processing

If you have any interest at all in Maker technologies, I recommend showing up for one of these…Jeff from Sparkfun is a great instructor, and I guarantee it’ll be a good time. I hope to see you all there!

LibraryBox Installfest @ ALA Annual 2014

Are you going to be at ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas? Would you like to build your own LibraryBox for yourself or your library, but aren’t sure how to make that happen? Well step right up, I’ve got your answer!

On Saturday, June 28th from 11:15am until 12 Noon in the Networking Uncommons in the Las Vegas Convention Center, I will be holding the fist ever LibraryBox Installfest! What does that mean? It means that you buy the hardware and bring it with you, and I will walk you through the install process, show you some tips and tricks for customizing, and generally answer any questions about the LibraryBox Project that you might have. I’ll be there helping anyone who shows up, so just drop by anytime during that 45 minutes.

What you DEFINITELY need to bring with you

The install process, from beginning to end, will take about 10-15 minutes. If you show up with the equipment listed, I will make sure that you leave with a working LibraryBox.

Join me in the Networking Uncommons for the first ever LibraryBox Installfest, and learn how to build your own LibraryBox. Or just swing by and ask questions. Or heck, just come say hello and grab a LibraryBox sticker.

See you in Vegas!

The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries

Over a year ago, I was approached by Ken Varnum to write a chapter for a book he was editing, at the time called Top Ten Technologies for 2017. He was persuasive, and I had this crazy idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time about libraries and open hardware. I told him my idea, and described the argument I wanted to make, and he told me to go for it.

So I did.

The book ended up being called The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know: A LITA Guide and my chapter in it The Case for Open Hardware in Libraries. I’m pretty proud of it, as it’s as close as I’ve been able to come, after a couple of years worth of thinking and speaking and writing, to distilling why I think this is an important thing for libraries to be doing.

Click the above link to download a copy for your very own, or take a look below for a quick skim. Either way, I hope that it starts or continues some conversations on this front in libraries. As always, if there are libraries out there that want to do this sort of thing, build their own hardware, create their own measurement tools, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to help you. Just let me know.

ALA Annual 2014 and Vegas Hotels

So I’ve had a ton of ALA types ask me about the hotel situation in Vegas for ALA Annual 2014, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for awhile now…and then ALA goes and opens up registration. So for those looking for some insight into best bets for location and hotels for ALA Annual 2014 in Las Vegas, here’s my take on the subject.

First off, I’ll just say: I love Vegas. I would never live there, but I love going, visiting, staying there for a few days at a time. I’ve been going once or twice a year for nearly a decade now, for events and to see friends and I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of the lay of the land. So here is my take on Vegas 2014.

If you haven’t been to Vegas before, the main thing I need to emphasize is the size of it. It looks, on a map, as if the hotels are right next to each other. Even when you’re standing on the Strip itself, it can look like they are right there, easily walkable. The truth is that the scale is totally off, and your eyes are being fooled, and it can be a 10 minute walk just from the sidewalk to the front door of a hotel, much less from one hotel to the other. Some of the really enormous complexes can be miles and miles of walking, all inside the hotel.

This is complicated by the fact that the Convention Center isn’t anywhere near the Strip, it’s off Strip and WAY down at the end. So the hotels that are convenient to the Convention Center (the LVH, Courtyard Convention Center, Residence Inn Convention Center) will NOT be convenient to pretty much anything else in Vegas. The opposite end of the map (Ballys, Caesar’s Palace, Flamingo, Paris) are fine, mostly mid-Strip hotels, and Caesar’s is by far the nicest of that bunch, for my money, the place to stay for ALA Annual is either Harrah’s or The Quad.

Why? The secret of getting back and forth to the convention center is the Las Vegas Monorail, and Harrah’s and The Quad share a monorail stop. The Quad is brand-newly renovated, and was formerly Imperial Palace…under that name, it was not really well taken care of. But the recent renovations look to have improved the place. You can go out the back of the hotel, and be on the monorail and at the convention center in 10 minutes, when just walking inside Caesar’s Palace could take you that long to get to the door and across the street. Harrah’s isn’t fancy Vegas, but it’s clean, and is in one of the best locations on the Strip. It’s right next to The Venetian, which has a few of my very favorite restaurants (while you are in Vegas, you MUST go to Bouchon), and it’s an easy walk to the Bellagio for the fountain show. So, for my money, the place to be for ALA Annual 2014 is Harrah’s Las Vegas.

I’ll be organizing a 2/4 Limit Hold’em table at some point, let me know if you’re interested. :-)

Walking in the Mandalay Bay

Just a funny video testing my equipment and showing how large some of the hotels are here in Vegas.

I’ve got more video coming over at the American Libraries The Scoop as soon as the weather cooperates and people get back into the office, as well as a prologue to my coverage and the first of several upcoming posts about specific tech and companies that I think libraries should be watching. But if you want 6 minutes of me walking, this is definitely the video for you.

ALA Code of Conduct suggestion: open it up

With all of the discussion and fervor surrounding the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct at ALA Conferences (hereafter Code of Conduct) around the various library virtual communities (on Twitter, on Blogs, on Facebook, etc). There are several posts that stand out, (yes, all of those are from Andromeda Yelton, for my money she’s been the most consistent and thoughtful voice among many), but for a comprehensive read I suggest heading over to Lisa Rabey’s blog and following her timeline of discussions.

I have a suggestion that I’d love to see happen with the Code of Conduct. Someone (either ALA itself, or another group/individual) should:

  • Reframe and present the Code of Conduct in such a way to allow for co-signers from other Library groups.
  • Edit to make the language applicable to any Library conference.
  • Put the text into a system that allows for change tracking and electronic signatures.
  • Provide a space both for organizations to sign on, and for individual librarians to make a pledge to only attend conferences that have a Code of Conduct of this type.

This would allow state and international library organizations to easily have their own Code of Conduct for their local conferences, without everyone having to reinvent the wheel. I expect that the ALA’s Code is going to be a moving target, with edits to it for clarity and expansion of understanding, and so any system that does have a signatory function would need to track the version that was signed, or some other diff functionality showing how the Code has evolved.

Regardless of how it’s actually implemented, I think this would be a huge move forward, and would prevent local/state/international organizations from wasting enormous amounts of time drafting their own Codes. It would also ensure the spread of what I believe to be a very, very positive move for Librarianship. I’m thrilled by the positive feedback that the CoC has gotten, and I hope that someone somewhere can make the above happen so we can ease the burden for anyone who wants to participate, at any level, not just with the ALA.

My Recommendations for the ALA Elections 2013

Because this post is going to be about people for whom I think you should vote, I will begin with a disclaimer: The opinions below are mine, and mine alone, and I am not speaking in any role other than as an ALA Member with thoughts about the best choices for office.

Now that that little prelude is out of the way, here’s my take on the upcoming elections. These are the people that I think could make a difference in ALA, will make good decisions and guide the organization well, and are the most likely to leave the thing better than when they started. I also think that they represent the best parts of libraries and librarians, and would be positive role models for this, the professional service aspect of our job.

I don’t have opinions on every election outcome, because boy-o there’s a lot of them. But the few that I do care about, here’s who I will be voting for, and who I recommend you vote for as well.

ALA President

Always a big decision, but not always such an exciting set of candidates. This time around, I am thrilled beyond telling that Courtney Young is among the candidates. Courtney is smart as a whip, understands the issues, and will bring a new perspective to the office that gets me excited to see what she will do. I think Courtney would make an great ALA President. I hope that I get the chance to see her as such.

ALA Council

The list here is long, as always, but I think that the following are a great set of librarians who I want to empower to help run our organization: Lauren Pressley, Erica Findley, John Jackson, Kate Kosturski, Chris Kyauk, Coral Sheldon-Hess, and Patrick Sweeney. There are probably more that I’m forgetting, but I’ll add them as I find them on my ballot. :-)

EDIT: Additional Council candidates that I would recommend: Loida Garcia-Febo, Kevin Reynolds, Edward Sanchez.

LITA Board of Directors

Oh, this is tough. The LITA board slate (Andromeda Yelton, Jason Battles, Brett Bonfield, and Jennifer Reiswig) is an amazing group of people. There are, truly, no bad choices in that field, and I think that’s great for LITA. You can’t go wrong. Me? I’m going to be voting for Andromeda and Brett, for a ton of reasons, but mainly because I think the two of them bring interesting perspectives to LITA that could broaden its horizons in ways that are needed.

So there’s my thoughts on the ALA elections. Democracy in action, people! Make sure you vote!

American Libraries Live

For those that missed it, I was the host of the first episode of American Libraries Live, a new monthly show from American Libraries. I had the best panel ever to work with backing me up, Marshall Breeding, Nina McHale, and Rebecca K. Miller. They could not have been more awesome to work with, and I can’t wait to do more with both the show, and these awesome librarians.

Take a look, and I’d love to hear suggestions for how to make it better in the future!

ALA 2012

ALA Annual 2012 is going to be huge, not only because it’s the first time my lovely daughter Eliza will be accompanying me to the conference (my wife Betsy is also coming, but she attended Chicago as well, so it’s not all new to her) but because it’s the first time I’ve actually scheduled “arrive early, do tourist stuff” for the conference. We’ll all be rolling into Anaheim on Tuesday before ALA, and doing Disney stuffs on Wed and Thurs. On Friday starts the conference proper for me, while they get to hang out and have fun. Below you’ll see my all-too-full schedule, and I’ve just really started to add things…I’m sure it will get even more full as the next week progresses.

You’ll also noticed that at times I’m double or triple booked. I’d love to not do this, but there truly are a ton of programs that I don’t want to miss, and I’m going to do my best to flit in and out and see as many as I can.

If you see me around, say hi!