Tag Archives: librarybox

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!

IMLS, Maker Faire, and Montana Academic Library Symposium

IMLS_Logo_2cStarting Wednesday, I’m heading out for a couple of really exciting events. The first is an IMLS Stakeholder meeting in San Francisco, CA on May 15th that is dedicated to a discussion of how library spaces are changing. From the press release:

The San Francisco meeting will focus on current trends, challenges and opportunities to consider for framing future investments in this area. The discussion will cover the following:

  • The Shift to Participatory Learning
  • Approaches to Technology and Space
  • Staffing and Mentorship Models
  • Connected Learning
  • Community Engagement: Partnerships and Programming
  • Measuring Success: Evaluation

I’m really excited to be a part of this discussion, and can’t wait to meet everyone involved. The event is going to be livestreamed, and they are looking for lots of community involvement, so please join in. The twitter hashtag is #imlsfocus and if you’d like to tweet me directly at @griffey, I’d be happy to ask questions on your behalf.

makerfaireThe incredibly awesome side-effect of being in San Francisco on Thursday and Friday of this week is that Saturday is Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, the largest Maker Faire in the world. This will be my first time being able to attend the grand-high-holy of maker faires, and I’m completely excited. I will of course have a few LibraryBoxen with me, and will be hanging out with Sparkfun showing it off when I can. Sparkfun is going to be located in the Intel booth, so come by and say hello, or just download some free books from the LibraryBox that will be stationed there.

And to round out the awesome week, I’m going to be heading over to Bozeman, MT for the Montana Academic Library Symposium 2014: Makerspaces, DIY Culture, and the Emergence of the Smart Library Building, where I’ll be delivering a keynote about…Library Spaces! I’ll be talking about how the digital devices that are coming over the next 5-10 years will impact the use of our physical spaces, how we can react to that, and how we can bolster our efforts in appropriately marketing ourselves to stakeholders regarding these issues. I’m really excited to meet the fantastic librarians in Montana, and talk about the future of our spaces.

As always, if you’re going to be at any of these events and want to meet up, drop me an email at griffey at gmail.com, or send me a message on twitter. I’d love to continue any of these conversations, or if you just want a LibraryBox demo, I’ll be happy to do that as well. Let me know!

LibraryBox v2.0 Release

librarybox logoOn July 28th, 2013 the LibraryBox Project got it’s first major public push, with the funding of the LibraryBox v2.0 Kickstarter Campaign. Today, 9 months later, I can finally announce that the v2.0 code is officially done, and is now available for download for installing as well as the source code being available on Github. There are a huge number of improvements, enhancements, and all around awesome things in the v2.0. I recommend you take a look at the About v2.0 page to see the highlights.

This means several things are now possible. First off, it means that the Kickstarter rewards for those that backed at the “get a LibraryBox” level are going to start shipping this week. I’ll be working my way through building and shipping those as quickly as possible. Those that have ordered Boxen directly, those are also going to be shipping ASAP, starting next week. My process will be to build and ship as I go, in the order placed. So those of you that jumped on earliest will start seeing shipping notices hit your inboxes over the weekend or very early next week.

This release is also the beginning of even more development for the LibraryBox Project. As announced just a few weeks ago, the Project has been chosen as a recipient of a Knight Foundation Prototype grant. This grant will fund the next round of development on LibraryBox, making it even better, more flexible, and more useful to more people around the world. More information about this next round of development, including goals and timelines, will be coming soon.

I hope you enjoy the code. Please build your ownupgrade your existing LibraryBox to the new code, or better yet, buy a pre-built LibraryBox and help support the project towards the v2.5 release.

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.

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 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!

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!

LibraryBox, Use Cases, and a call for help

One of the things that I’ve been most often asked about the Librarybox project is “What’s it for?”. That’s an honest question, and I’ve had a host of answers: to help serve files to areas without wifi but with devices, to serve files to users in a controlled fashion that doesn’t involve wider Internet access, etc.

But an email I got just a week or so ago put everything into focus for me. Here it is, edited to protect the identity of the person writing and anonymize the location a bit.

I’m a foreigner living in [REDACTED], and volunteer twice a week to help low-income [REDACTED] learn English. English classes are obscenely expensive, so it’s becomes a means for the Haves to keep the Have-not’s out of more lucrative jobs and overseas educational opportunities. Helping really motivated people, who just can’t afford access to this sort of education is quite rewarding and enjoyable.

We get upwards of 100 people showing up in the park to practice every week, so I do quite a bit of running around. One of the issues is that because of the [INFORMATION CONTROLS], often access to very simple, innocuous study material is blocked (of course well-to-do families have VPNs so don’t have these problems). So at first I would print things out, and then when the group got too large, encourages them to bring USB drives- which was a bit time consuming, and I’m concerned might attract the wrong sort of attention. Lately I’ve been using Piratebox, because even the cheapest [REDACTED] phones have wifi. It’s better than the alternatives to date, but as you pointed out it’s not really meant for the purpose and can be quite confusing…

[HARDWARE DISCUSSION REDACTED]…I just barely managed to get Piratebox installed- I’m not very good at command line. Most of the people who would probably get the best use out of this also would have similar problems, anything that could be done to simplify the install procedure would be great. If LibraryBox could simply open to some sort of file structure- read only, with no links or chat like the PirateBox has. Then I could just load the USB drive up directly with relevant study material for them to download to their phones, and at the cost so low I’m sure that the use would become widespread.

This is something I truly believe in, and a little English can make a massive difference in the quality of life here for some. Also for a hungry mind not to have access to books… well you probably feel
about the same way about that as I do or you would not have started this fork. So if any sort of donation would help with the development costs- please let me know.

As a result of this email, I would like to publicly ask for help with the project. I think two things need to be done: the first is moving the LibraryBox fork up to the current version of Piratebox, something which I have the hardware to start testing soon. But once I grok how to make the customizations work, I think the next step in the project is a true fork…producing an IPK that is installable directly to LibraryBox, bypassing Piratebox altogether. I had been holding out against this, hoping to continue to benefit from the code being produced by the Piratebox team. Once LibraryBox starts being a separate install, it becomes more complicated to merge code. But the letter above sold me, and I am asking for help with this.

If you feel as strongly as I do about the free flow of information, the sharing of books, and the education of the disadvantaged, help me. In the next couple of weeks I hope to have the customizations done, and if you have any coding skills, or understand how to build IPK’s for install, help me make this easier for people like the author above. The idea that this project could be something that helps make lives better around the world…well, that has a way of inspiring me. I hope it inspires you to volunteer some time to help out.

If you have questions, ideas, or want to touch base to find out how you can help, use the contact form here.

Contact page

LibraryBox

What is LibraryBox? It’s my newest hack, a hardware and software project that takes the “pirate” out of PirateBox to produce a tiny, battery-powered, linux-based, anonymous file server capable of serving arbitrary types of digital files to anyone with a wifi-enabled device.

But, you may ask, what is it for? It’s for any situation where you need to distribue digital files but don’t have or don’t want Internet access. LibraryBox is based on a fork of the PirateBox project, using the TP-Link MR-3020 router, an 802.11n router that is capable of running on a USB 5 volt power source. This means that for about $40 and some time, you can have a file server that fits in your pocket. I loaded my demo unit with the top 100 Public Domain ebooks from Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg, and hooked it up to an iPad battery pack that will run it for 16 hours.

This means I can be a walking digital library, giving people access to eBooks anywhere I happen to have the LibraryBox. These could be used in a million different ways, from bringing eBooks, Audio, even movies to areas with digital devices but without Internet access to just being a personal file server for conference slides or other resources.

More information, including pictures and such, are all up on the LibraryBox website. The code is all licensed under the GPL and is available on Github. Several people have looked at the project, and I’m hoping that others will see the value and help me make it better. There’s lots of improvements possible, and I (and hopefully many others) will be working on making the process easier and better for users.