Friday, November 28, 2014

Every Day Money Saving Tips

Happy Black Friday! Today makes me think of a few of my favorite places to visit for the latest deals and discounts before I make ANY online purchase. As every penny counts, here are a few ways to stretch your dollar:

- Retail Me Not. I use this one all the time, very user friendly and easy to use. You look up your store, they provide the online discount code, and you apply it to your cart. Easy peasy! As with all things online, not all codes are successful, so Retail Me Not included a success rate with each code so you'll know how likely they are to work.

- Slick Deals. Very similar to Retail Me Not, but much more extensive and complex. They also have a great browsing page, so you can easily go through pages of discounted items and deals, finding great deals that you didn't even know to look for but are perfect for your library / upcoming program.

- Amazon Discount Finder. I haven't used this one yet, but I think it is a fabulous idea. You mark the category you are interested in and the discount percent range you'd like, then search Amazon!

- Camel, Camel, Camel. If you don't need to buy something quickly, check out this website. It will tell you the price history of the object and it'll alert you when the price falls to your desired amount. Great for large purchases that can fluctuate a lot in price and aren't needed quickly.

Happy shopping, today and any day!

Image Copyright: designsoliman / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, November 21, 2014

LibraryReads: Top 10 Books From Librarians For Libraries

All around the internet, one can find articles about the top books to read this summer, this holiday, this year... But many of these lists aren't coming from libraries. I've always thought this was a shame, but in September of 2013, a group of librarians partnered with publishers to change that. You have to check out LibraryReads!

What is so cool about this initiative?
1. Every month, they publish a list of the top 10 titles that are being released within the next 31 days.
2. The nominations are only made by public librarians and can only be on books that haven't been published yet.
3. Due to the above, it is a great opportunity for librarians to band together and create buzz for our favorite reads.
4. Marketing materials are provided so that every library can easily get the word out to their patrons.
5. ALL public librarians are encouraged to participate, which means you!

Participation isn't hard. You need to make an account with Edelweiss, read an ARC (check out our next post for how to get an ARC, an advanced reading copy) and then write reviews on your favorite adult books. When you mark your review for LibraryReads (which can be a real review or just a quick "I love this!"), it counts as a vote. The top 10 books nominated are then published on the list.

This is only open to public librarians and the focus is only on adult books (YA crossover books that have adult appeal are welcomed). I am hopeful that they will branch out into YA and Children literature, but they just turned one year old last September, so we'll give them time. In the meantime, participate and advertise in your library!

Friday, November 14, 2014

7 Benefits of Cloud Storage for Librarians

Are you and your coworkers saving your work to "the cloud"?  There are many services to choose from (see this article in CNET for a great review of the top four cloud storage companies. I personally use Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud Drive), but today we're going to talk about why this matters for libraries:

1. File Syncing -- If your staff do not use specific computers, they'll want this. They just work on their file, save it in the cloud, and then can easily access it from any computer. Similarly, staff can access important files like event fliers, staff schedules, reimbursement forms and brochures that will always be updated with the latest information, no matter who had worked on it last.

2. Easy Collaboration -- No need to worry about multiple versions floating around! Stop emailing files and tell coworkers to make their edits directly in the cloud so it'll always be accessible at the current version.

3. Retrieve Old Versions -- Did someone accidentally delete your file? Many of these services will retain all older versions for up to 30 days. Get it back!

4. Easy to Use -- Some are easier to use than others, but the concept is really simple to understand and even your most hesitant technology person will be able to use it. Many of them just look like another folder on your computer.

5. Online Access -- You can even find your files online, so if you need something (i.e. a presentation) on the go, you can use any computer from anywhere to get it.

6. File Hosting -- Want to send a large file to coworkers, colleagues, or patrons? Many of these services allow you to make a link so they can download your file.

7. Back-up -- Never lose a file again! Since it is on the cloud, if your hard drive fails, you won't cry a tear.

1. Limited Space -- As with all freeium businesses, it starts off free with limited space. However, you can save a lot of files with 2GB, so don't feel like you need to rush to a paid plan. 

2. Conflicting Copies -- If you and another person (or the file is open on another computer) work on a document at the same time and then save it, it'll make two different versions of the document; your version and theirs. Changes won't be lost, but it may take some time to notice and merge them together. (This is not the case for services like Google Drive, if you're modifying via their web application. There, you and your coworker can both work on it at the same time.) 

3. One Account -- While everyone can create an account, it does NOT make sense when you're sharing computers. The downloaded desktop app is not intended to be signed in and out by multiple people and every time you do it, it needs time to download everything that's been added. Unfortunately the business version does not take this work practice into account, so even if you do a business account, you will need generic ones for your multi-user computers.

4. Security --  It is on the cloud, after all. But even more than that, if you are using one account and someone leaves the library, you'll need to disconnect their personal devices from your account (if they attach it to their phone or home computers), and possibly change passwords. If you are using the free version, it will only prevent them from receiving new files and updates; they have to delete the files themselves. If you pay for the business version, you can actually run remote wipes.

So, there you have it! The good, the bad, the ugly - in 5 minutes or less!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ready to Go Book Display: Books for Gamers

Welcome to our new series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens, Children, and All Ages) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

Are you celebrating International Games Day at your library? Held every year on the third Saturday of November, it is coming soon on November 15th. Whether you are participating this year or planning for next year, you can always create a display to show your patron gamers that you love them. Here's some ideas to get you started:

Recommendations for Adults:

A versed celebration of the 101 two-letter words allowed in the game Scrabble, dedicating an original four-line, wryly whimsical rhyming poem to each.
(Great for Teens, too!)

Follows the author, who was originally just a curious reporter and now a Scrabble fiend, as he becomes an expert Scrabble player and delves into the realm of Scrabble culture. He encounters a vitamin-popping standup comic and the three-time champion who plays by Zen principles, and realizes that Scrabble is more than just a game on many different levels.

Bakerhaven Police Chief Dale Harper is perplexed by a piece of evidence in his first murder investigation - an apparent crossword puzzle clue found on the body of a teenage girl - so he recruits the town's famed "Puzzle Lady," the eccentric author of a weekly syndicated crossword puzzle column. The newest book in the series - Puzzled Indemnity -  comes out January 2015.

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt (Sept. 2014)
A definitive look at Dungeons & Dragons traces its origins on the battlefields of ancient Europe through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides and to its apotheosis as father of the modern video game industry.

Chronicles how Sega - a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels - took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.

In a near-future world that is dominated by an alternate-reality game without boundaries, players find their real lives increasingly and violently overshadowed by the game and its escalating demands.

The creator of the popular "virtual Lego" game, Minecraft, traces his unlikely rise from a disaffected youth who rose from a family marked by drug abuse and conflict to a multi-millionaire and international icon.

Immersing himself in a mid-21st century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's super-wealthy creator, who has promised that the winner will be his heir.
(This book is also loved by many teens!)

Recommendations for Teens:

A father-son chess tournament reveals the dark side of the game.

Fifteen-year-old math prodigy Seth Gordon hopes to compete professionally playing the world's most popular computer game, but when he gets the chance to move to Korea and train full-time, he may not be ready for the culture shock and leaving his possible girlfriend.

Dennis, the son of Chinese immigrants, yearns to play video games like his friends and upon his strict father's death, becomes obsessed with them.

An updated edition of an ultimate guide to video games contains industry news on upcoming and noteworthy games as well as the most recent and best records and entertaining trivia for today's most popular games.

Immersing herself in an online fantasy game, Anda confronts a difficult choice when she befriends a disadvantaged Chinese child who illegally collects rare items in the game and sells them to other players.

The lives of two Minnesota teenagers are intertwined through the world of role-playing games.

The first installment in a series set in a world of hyper-advanced technology, cyberterrorism and extreme gaming finds talented young hacker Michael enlisted by the government to stop a violent fellow hacker who is trapping hostages in nightmarish, brain-damaging virtual reality environments.

Recommendations for Children:

Dylan Rudee is suddenly pulled into the world of his favorite video game, where he encounters actual monsters, giant storytelling spiders, malevolent hummingbirds, and the ultimate challenge of learning how to be a hero. (Good for teens, too.)

When video game obsessed Pete Watson discovers his dad is not only a super-spy but has been kidnapped and is now trapped inside a video game, he has to use his super gaming skills and enter the game to rescue him.

Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Lugi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (July 2009)
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1970's television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

An iconic yet informative guide to video game terminology in picture book format.

Recommendation for All Ages:
From old-fashioned classics to new high-tech varieties, this comprehensive guide to playing games and creating fun includes intricate clapping games, bike rodeo and Google Earth challenges in this follow up to Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun.