Category Archives: LibraryBox

LibraryBox needs Librarians

Hello all you librarian types! Want to help out on the most awesome open source library project going today? If so, read on…

As a part of the Kickstarter Project for LibraryBox v2.0 (which is literally days away from being available), I asked people to provide me with a piece of content that they wanted included on the shipping LibraryBoxen. Well, they did, and it’s an amazing list of good stuff…unfortunately, it’s too much of a good thing, because even if I worked on it during every free hour I have, it would take me too long to get it done.

Because it requires a bit of knowledge (ebook file types, naming conventions) I can’t just throw it open to the world…but who better to help me sort out a collection of content than librarians? So here’s what I’m asking for help with: Below you’ll see two bookmarks. The first is to the open Google Doc of all of the content that people requested. The second is to an upload form.

If I could get a bit of crowdsourcing help, that would be amazing. Here’s the  way I think it should work:

  1. Awesome Librarian #1 hits the google doc, and marks a row “busy” by making it yellow.
  2. They then click the link and download the content in question.
  3. They check the file, rename it if necessary, and then upload it using the form.
  4. When it’s done, mark the Google doc for that piece of content Green for done. Easy, peasey, and if a few people join in, it will all be done in no time.

Ground Rules

  • Filenames should be Title by Author.filetype, for instance: Dune by Frank Herbert.epub
  • For ebooks, if there are multiple filetypes, grab both the epub and the Kindle version.
  • If the content is not clearly licensed, the link is bad, or any other reason to be concerned about the content, mark the row Red.
  • Use your judgment as to problems or issues…this is why I want librarians doing it instead of crowdsourcing it in general. Use the notes field in the Google Doc for feedback as to why there was a problem.
  • If you would like a Thank You credit in the LibraryBox v2.0 code, drop me an email and let me know how you’d like to be credited (griffey at gmail) and I’ll add you to the credits.

Google Doc for Content

Upload Form

Thank you in advance for ANY help at all, and I’m curious to see how quickly this can be done if it’s run in parallel instead of serial. Thanks for all the help.

LibraryBox store is officially open

As of RIGHT NOW, for the first time, LibraryBox is available for purchase at the LibraryBox online store. Previously only available to Kickstarter backers, individuals and organizations can now pre-order a LibraryBox v2.0 for shipment in March 2014. The cost for a standard LibraryBox (MR3020 based and with 16GB of storage) will be $150, with special editions available for $200 that include a customized 3D printed container for your LibraryBox.

For those techies out there: LibraryBox is and will always be open source. I’m not going to be removing your ability to build your own or anything like that. It’s just that there are libraries and schools where it doesn’t make sense for them to build them themselves, or they would prefer knowing that the LibraryBox they end up with is tested and guaranteed working. The v2.0 code is very close to a release candidate, and as soon as we verify the code and push it to release, I will be posting up links to the repository on Github.

Here’s a link to the press release.

I’m so excited to see this next step in the development of this project. I hope that you are, too.

Lessons from LibraryBox

Presentation I gave a couple of months ago here in Chattanooga as the first event in the Code & Creativity series from Easy Designs. Think it turned out pretty well, if you’re interested in LibraryBox, take a look.

Jason Griffey: Lessons from LibraryBox from Code & Creativity on Vimeo.

Jason Griffey talked about his current passion: the LibraryBox Project, an open source wifi file sharing device that recently had its v2.0 funded on Kickstarter to the tune of $33,000. He discussed the genesis of the project, his ongoing goals for v2.0, and why receiving 1000% of his funding goals via Kickstarter keeps him up at night.

Recorded at Code & Creativity on August 27, 2013.

Atlanta Mini Maker Faire 2013

IMG_0901On Saturday morning, Oct 26th, I set out towards the Georgia Tech campus to be a Maker at the 2013 Atlanta Mini Maker Faire. Way back in August I was contacted by one of the organizers, David, who asked if I would be interested in setting up a table to promote LibraryBox. The organizers saw it as a result of the Kickstarter Campaign, and thought it would be a good project to have as a part of the Faire.

I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity to take LibraryBox and put it in front ofthat many people, especially people who were coming out and interested in Making things. I had with me one LibraryBox running on a 6600mAh battery, and another running off a solar panel (the first that I’m aware of, certainly the first I’ve built). I also had around 300 or so fliers I had printed, stickers, buttons, and other swag to give out to the slavering hoards.

Solar LibraryBox

The Faire opened at 10am, and I was totally unprepared for the onslaught. I know that people overuse the word “literally”, but I _literally_ only stopped talking for 10 seconds or so at a time between 10am and 5pm. There was a constant parade of people in front of me, usually 4-8 of them, all interested and asking questions. As with any tech product, I got a huge range of questions from the creepy (“Are you SURE that the NSA can’t track me if I share files on this thing”) to the technical (“So what’s the clockspeed of the chip this is running?”) to the spot on (“So we could use this to share files with other campers when we’re in the woods?”).

LibraryBox SwagI was totally out of fliers by 2pm, and had to grab the last one to tape it down so people could take pics with their cell phones. I came back with less than 10 stickers total (out of several hundred). And I gave away about $20 worth of halloween candy. It was awesome and cool and exhausting and I definitely want to do it again.

If anyone knows of any similar Maker style events in the southeast (or anywhere, really) that would benefit from having some LibraryBox action, drop me a note! I may start actively seeking out more of these sorts of events to try and get the word out.

LibraryBox v2.0 & the Kickstarter Campaign

ledge wide

Way back in February and March of 2012, I had an idea that was to basically try and take the “pirate” out of the PirateBox project, and make it more friendly to use by libraries. I called this fork LibraryBox, and I rushed during those two months to finish it in time to take it with me to Computers in Libraries 2012 to test it.

That initial 1.0 version was very rough, absolutely a bespoke build and wasn’t something that was easily replicated. It was a proof of concept, though, that was interesting enough that some began to use it, experiment with it, and find it valuable enough to stick with despite its difficulties. But it was clear that making the installation process easier and less error-prone was the primary goal for moving forward.

So I plugged away as I could, and in October 2012 I was able to release v1.5 of LibraryBox, and a complete redesign of the accompanying Web site. The v1.5 was faster, easier to install, and a huge improvement, but only a small step towards what the project could be. The community that sprang up around the v1.5 has also been more robust, and as it grew the list of enhancements grew alongside it. These included the need for anonymous usage statistics, even easier installation, alternative energy sources such as solar, and more direct editing of the pages that LibraryBox serves.

The project has grown from an idea to something that is being used in 14 countries on 5 different continents, by educators, librarians, and technologists trying to distribute digital information in places off the grid. There is a huge list of things that should be done with LibraryBox, and it’s gotten to the point where I simply can’t do them…for both technical proficency and simple logistical reasons. But the project is something I believe in, something that I want to see succeed and be used in even more places. The only way forward that I could see was to find money that could be traded for the expertise and time of someone other than myself.

Thus it is with great excitement that I announce the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to support LibraryBox v2.0. It is a meager amount of money that I am asking for ($3000) and I could easily use 3-5x that amount in various ways…but I wanted to ensure that the project stays true to its open source roots. If you think that LibraryBox is worth supporting, back it for some amount…but more importantly, spread the word. LibraryBox is much larger than just libraries, and the more eyeballs that see the campaign page the more likely it is that it could gather some attention outside of the LibraryLand that we all know and love.

I’m incredibly excited about the project. I’m terrified of seeing how it does on Kickstarter, and if people can grok the potential in the way that the LibraryBox community has. And I’m really looking forward to continuing to work on the project.

Help make LibraryBox great along with me.

LibraryBox v1.5 website relaunch

While this blog has been quiet, I’ve been working away at a redesign of the LibraryBox website. Said redesign is now live, all new content, and most importantly, instructions for how to build a v1.5 LibraryBox. These instructions are far, far easier than the v1 instructions, and I took at lot of time listening to feedback about the Project, trying to find the right tone for the site. What I wanted to do was try and tell the story of why I think LibraryBox is potentially an important project. I think I managed that.

Go take a look, let me know what you think!

The Future of Things: How everywhere changes everything

This morning I was privileged to give a keynote address to the Homewood Public Library in Homewood, IL for their Staff Development day. It was the first time I gave this particular talk, and it was a distillation of an essay that I’ve been trying to write for some time. The thrust of both is that the technological changes coming over the next 5-10 years are likely to be so transformative that we (libraries and librarians) need to be thinking now, hard, about how we prepare for them. How do libraries continue to measure our value when our historical measurements become useless? How can we use open hardware to prepare ourselves for these newly-needed measurements? How will the continued and unavoidable drop in price, increase in processing, and lessening of power consumption of hardware be useful for libraries?

I don’t have lots of answers. But I think these are the beginnings of some interesting questions.

So here’s my slide deck from the presentation. I hope to have the essay/post/whatever it ends up being done soon. I really want to start talking about this with other librarians.

Making things

It has been far too long since I posted here, but it’s been a very busy month. I’ve been busy working on an update of LibraryBox, making it fast, more stable, and most importantly, far easier to install. The code for LibraryBox v1.5 is on Github, and the installation instructions are forthcoming. One of the reasons that I’ve not published the current set of installation instructions is that I am working on a feature for Make Magazine on LibraryBox, and I want to ensure that they are as thorough as possible before they go to them, and up on the LibraryBox site.

I’ve also been playing around a bit with a MakerBot Replicator that we purchased at MPOW, figuring out its idiosyncrasies. Part of that process has been finding the easiest way to do simple object creation, so in that attempt, I designed a box to hold your LibraryBox:

You can edit one for yourself, or download and print. It’s also in place over at Thingiverse, if you want to download or comment on it there.

So the silence here isn’t to be taken for inactivity. :-) A new version of LibraryBox, an article for Make, and my first object on Thingiverse counts as a pretty good month.

LibraryBox on NCompass

Yesterday I was privileged to be a guest on the Nebraska Library Commission weekly online show NCompass Live.  The topic was LibraryBox, and it turned into a pretty solid hour of really good discussion about what LibraryBox is, how it came to be, and where I hope it might be going. If you’re interested at all in the project, but don’t quite grok it, this is a great place to start.

LibraryBox around the ‘net

The LibraryBox project is slowly getting noticed around the ‘net! In the last month or so, there has been two really great writeups of the project.

Hack Education (thanks to Audrey Watters!)

Griffey says the LibraryBox will “take the ‘pirate’ out of PirateBox.” That doesn’t mean exorcising the spirit of the larger PirateBox project, which its creator Darts says was “inspired by the free culture and pirate radio movements” and serves as a “playful remixing of the title of the world’s most resilient bittorrent site, The Pirate Bay.” Rather, replacing “pirate” with “library” makes it more apparent, in Griffey’s case, that this is about open access to information and to books. As he describes some of the inquiries he’s received about the LibraryBox, it’s clear that this device could have enormous potential for boosting literacy and education and for opening access to digital educational materials.

and

Open Book Lab (thanks to John Miedema!)

PirateBox alone is a great idea. LibraryBox, says Griffey, is customized to be friendly to library needs. At first I raised an eyebrow at that. What library needs merit a fork? Then I thought of several:

  • A primary mission of libraries is to increase access to information. LibraryBox could provide access to information resources in conditions where political oppression is preventing it.
  • Sometimes technology is used to block access to information, either through aggressive monitoring, IP blocking, or filtering. LibraryBox is technology that reverses this blocking.
  • One of my current interests is the aggregation of distributed data fragments into a whole, especially as the web grows bigger and more complex. Like libraries, LibraryBox is designed to deliver data in highly localized contexts. It is an instant intranet, a domain of knowledge. Lots to think about here.

Go read both stories, and comment if you’re interested in the project.

In other LibraryBox news, I started a Google Groups listserv for the project, in hopes of getting people who are interested talking to one another about it, and generating ideas about use, as well as sharing implementation issues and challenges.  Come help define where the project heads next!