Monday, July 25, 2016

Podcast on Pokemon Go

Here is our podcast on the subject starring myself, Beth (circulation/tech services) and Suzanne (reference/YA) As we keep playing, we start to learn the finer details behind the Pokemon Go phenomenon and explain it for non-users or the curious. On a side note: I am now level 19 :)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pokemon Go Update: I Just Won Our Gym!

I had been out all weekend walking around catching Pokemon and all that worked payed off as I came into work (EARLY a first) just so I could see if I could win our library gym. I easily defeated the yellow team that was in charge of the gym and now it has become a red team training area. So what does that mean?

All weekend I have cavorted around downtown Plymouth, MA and areas of Boston, MA to catch common Pokemon like Pidgeys and Weebles or a few more alluring rare ones that popped up like this Scyther (it's on the Charles River BTW).  By catching even the most common Pokemon duplicates, I earned stardust and candies to evolve my stronger Pokemon to begin taking over gyms.

When you first visit a gym (you have to be pretty close to the site in order to battle) you choose a color: red, yellow or blue. Once you have chosen, it is a forever solidified choice. Now I can go to gyms marked RED to train my Pokemon and earn my gym prestige. If I am in charge of the gym, earn coins to buy extra items. If the gym shows up another color, I can try to battle the Pokemon that lead the gym with my strongest Pokemon, in this case CP 535 and a few other stronger ones, into battle. You have to fight and win against all the people who have placed Pokemon at the gym. Once you have defeated all of them, the gym turns grey and you have to click in it again to claim it for your color (Red in my case) and leave one of your Pokemon there to defend it.  I immediately posted on our social media sites that I had taken over the gym and challenge others to come try to take it over or to train on team red. If you haven't made an account yet, you might want to have your screen name say your library so everyone knows that you have won.  I just used my email address and now I regret it.

I left my 3rd strongest Pokemon there as I can keep battling against myself to earn prestige with my stronger Pokemons and try to level up the gym. Once the gym's level has increased, more Pokemon can be left there by others on your same color team to defend the gym. How do you battle? Just tap your Pokemon on the phone screen and swipe to dodge attacks. If you hold your finger down long enough and release, you can do a special attack.

If any library has circulate-able mobile hot spots now is the time to advertise. This game eats through your data plan and some rural areas get very little signal. Having a mobile hot spot in your pocket (or setting one up at a gym or Pokestop nearby) will increase the stability of the game play.

While I was playing this weekend, I was surprised by the number of people (20-30s mostly but I did see some parent/child teams) out playing.  At Pokestops, people can drop "lures" which look like petals or confetti falling from the stop. The lure attracts Pokemon to the area for 30 minutes. When I observed lures being dropped you always knew the spot because there were 30 people milling about on their phones each looking up and talking to each other as we realized that we are all playing the same game. If your library is a Pokestop, rather than a gym, you can drop lures and advertise on social media the time and the place.  If your library happens to have a special rare Pokemon in the area, Boston Public Library had one but my phone died, it's worth telling people. #pokemongo is already up and running as well as many Facebook pages like Pokemon Go Massachusetts.  For those in the south shore, Pokemon Plymouth, where users are connecting and sharing tips and scheduling meetups. The site, reddit is also full of tips.

I have to admit I've been to Boston numerous times and never once knew there was a Houdini plaque to commemorate his jump in 1908 on the side of the Harvard Bridge leading to the Charles or ever visited Paul Revere's grave near the Boston Common until they were Pokestops.  This game encourages exercise (as my Fitbit has given me much praise for the 15 miles I've clocked in 2 days) and a bit of history. Not to mention, it got me socializing with strangers!We are in the next generation of gaming. Librarians put your thinking caps on as we can try to embrace and promote this in our communities while the "iron is hot".  I'll let you know how long it takes for me to be "dethroned" meanwhile here is me posing with Psyduck on Atlantic Ave in Boston.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We are a Pokemon Go Gym!

In game play with the red marker being a GYM stop for the library
I was pretty excited to walk into work today to find out that the library is a Pokemon Go gym. What's Pokemon Go? Well my Facebook feed has been flooded with it this week as libraries and my friends in their 30's discover its magic. This free app, with in app purchases, debuted this week
for both iOS and Android devices. Pokemon Go is everything you loved about the original Pokemon games only better because this is a real live scavenger hunt. You turn the app on, you physically walk around wherever you are (and walk, and walk and walk..seriously I did 4 miles just yesterday looking for Jigglypuff) and Pokemon pop up to catch. As long as you have a Pokeball, you can capture it. Once you reach level 5, you can bring them to a GYM stop to train and battle.  Depending on the color of the gym, you can leave a Pokemon there to "protect and claim" it. Right now we have someone guarding our library gym spot with a level 157 Pidgeyoto so I'm not going there just yet.  I only started Saturday and I'm level 6 with a level 144 Oddish. You can level up just by walking but capturing Pokemon is faster.

 A quick 5 minute walk outside the library brought up 3 Poke stops where you can spin a virtual picture of the spot for free items like more Pokeballs or potions. These stops are usually near historic sites around town. One stop I have never noticed in 3 years yet I walk by it all the time. If your
library isn't a stop or gym just yet there's nothing you can do about it. At this point they are pre-generated.  You need to download the app (or ask someone) to figure out what you are. Once you are close enough to a stop, the cubes on top of the stops will change to a circle and you click on the circle. Once the picture comes up, you swipe your phone to spin it for items.

I caught a Pidgey at the library
Different Pokemon pop up at different locations. Near water you are more likely to get water Pokemon or you can wait till night time when some nocturnal Pokemon come out. There is a rustling of green leaves on screen to hint where Pokemon might be. By right clicking on the bottom right of your screen bring up a map of foot prints (1,2,3) to signify how close you are to a creature. Your phone will buzz to alert you if anything pops up so you don't have to walk with it in front of your face the entire time. Once you tap on the Pokemon that has appeared, your phone's camera opens and you see the creature "in real life".  This is a feature you can turn off with the AR switch. You swipe across the screen with your Pokeball to capture. When you hold your finger down over the Pokeball, a circle will appear on the Pokemon. Orange means they are a bit feistier and you might need to feed them some razberries or use a great ball. Keep capturing the same Pokemon repeatedly so you can keep the highest leveled one and trade back in the rest to the professor for candy to evolve them. Mostly I keep finding Pidgeys, Rattatats, and Weedles but certain areas have special Pokemon with urban areas being more of a popular hot spot.

You don't have to physically go into a buildings, as a cheeky police station has already posted, as long as you are a few feet "near" it. So people can use your library if it is a gym even during closing hours depending on where it is placed. I found a few inside my house, a Psyduck even popped up in the bathroom this morning. I feel bad for this poor guy. 

So what can the library do? Well this is IMHO virtual making. The Pokemon you collect can be trained here to get stronger and evolve if your library is a gym. Maybe a contest to highlight who claims the gym on different days? Maybe a scheduled meet-up where Pokemon Go players can talk, team up and share what they collected. For example: WHERE DO YOU FIND JIGGLYPUFF? I STILL NEED TO KNOW! I made the top graphic in Photoshop to put on our library doors and plastered it all over our Facebook and Instagram with the #pokemongo hashtag. I'm already looking forward to all the conversations I have with kids that come into the library and connect with them as we compare what different kinds of Pokemon we caught.

As I became an adult with much more responsibilities, it became harder to find time to sit and play really involved video games but this one is great.  I can just turn my phone on when I'm walking around already. Keep in mind when you have the app open your data plan is being used. The competition between my friends has gotten fierce to see who is the highest level and it is only day 3. It encourages players to be physically active and aware of their local historical sites. It brings the community together of all ages (Pokemon has been around since the 90's!) and the library can easily be a part of this pop culture phenomenon in the latest step in the evolution of the Pokemon legacy. So download the app and buy as many Pokemon books and DVDs as you can! Who's hosting a Pokemon party?

Monday, June 6, 2016

A reflection on 3D printing classes at the DFL

in podcast form this time! Reference librarian Suzanne, YA librarian Larissa and I sit down to chat about our 3D printing experiences teaching classes this year.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

3D Printers: Program or Service?

I'm always reflecting and evaluating how something is working especially something as expensive as our Ultimaker 2 3D printer.  Before purchasing a 3D printer, make sure to have a talk with staff about what they hope to accomplish with this printer. Is it a program? Is it a self-directed service? Is it both? This is true for any kind of new equipment such as video to DVD conversion, scanners, free Adobe suite products, and other items in our digital media lab. Ideally, people would come in, sit down and independently use the equipment for personal projects but some might need that initial tutorial for the confidence to begin.

I don't think we are at a point yet where most people have enough exposure to 3D printers to offer it as just another service (like our ink jet printers) without some beginner programming. It needs highlighting in newsletters, website, social media, etc. Sometimes it just takes that one hour program to encourage the self-directed learning that you hope to provide as a 3D printing "service".  Advertising a program like 3D printing and having no one show up? Don't be discouraged. This advertisement has planted the notion that your library has a 3D printer available.  Maybe Intro to 3D Printing is too vague? The reference department here did a series of directed workshops like board game pieces, jewelry, hand drawn prints and mother/daughter prints, to provide guidance with their initial printing endeavors. Some patrons gladly went off on their own projects but others liked the narrowed project guidance.

I feel like a carnival barker sometimes but try to bring your printer out in a visible space once in a while before the program itself. If you show it, they will come, eventually.  Even a simple display with 3D printed sample items is a real eye catcher and an opportunity for talk at the desk.
Since January, I have run monthly 3D printing beginner workshops (6 kids each) with only a few return customers coming back to print more. But the ones that have returned to print on their own made some really incredible things, one even winning a science fair! I am hoping this summer, when school commitments are over, kids will return to designing. We are going to hold weekly classes on Friday afternoons in July.

I have also emailed Boy and Girl Scout troops to offer a programming. I have had one Boy Scout pack visit and two Girl Scout troops this year. Remember they don't expect libraries to be offering these things so you still need to reach out, shout it from the rooftops and have patience.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

STEM highlights from MLA Conference

Yesterday I attended the Massachusetts Library Association's Annual Conference in Hyannis, MA. It had an amazing selection of presenters. They talked about the many facets of librarianship from programming to reader's advisory with some STEM highlights:

Mattapoisett, Rochester, and Marion public libraries came together for a MOBY (My Own Backyard) LSTA grant. Librarians from all three librarians as well as a science curriculum educator collaborated to provide backpacks with science related activities for patrons to check out as well as programming to highlight each bag. This goes back to that theory that if no one knows about it, the greatest stuff could just sit on the shelves. A great tip I learned from another presentation is even if many people don't show up to a program, just highlighting the database or product that you want to promote as an event, say one on one with tutorials, could increase use. Some people might not be able to make the event, life happens, but maybe they didn't know the library had the product in the first place.  This happened recently with a ukulele workshop that we did. I specifically did it to promote having ukulele's to check out at the library. If someone was interested in the event but couldn't come or didn't have a ukulele of their own, I made sure to promote our circulating ukuleles in all advertisements. They are never on the shelves!

Back to the MOBY bags, they included hands on tools, books, and a journal to record observations. Each library has a different set of kits from tapping maple syrup to tidepools kits for the beach. They have had great success with the backpacks (no losses of materials) with occasional washing of items upon return.  They are more than willing to share their information as long as you provide them credit. If you want to learn more check out their joint Facebook page.

Even if you don't have grant money, there are still some great ideas for circulating items in the kits to purchase. One item in a backpack that I hadn't heard of was sticklets. Sticklets are silicon adapters that encourage outdoor model creations using sticks. What an ingenious idea! Without having the backpacks, this is still a viable circulating item.   These would be great to have outside on the library lawn to encourage sculpture design this summer (if you are near many trees).

In the afternoon I attended a presentation on the 6 Principles of the Montessori Prepared Environment which fits nicely into STEM drop in programming or a re-design of the children's play area. Having small interactive displays or selecting STEM toys like magnets, scales, and magnifying glasses to have out in bins for free play encourages child directed learning. No signs prompting the parent required.  Chokeable? Leave it near the children's desk on a higher shelf.  It is all about beautifying your space and encouraging free play that stimulates social and intellectual skills.  We, as librarians, are already doing this! Will it be messy? Perhaps, I wouldn't put paint or sand out there unsupervised.  We also instituted a sticker reward for cleanup and it works well. What is the cost? Put some rocks or other free natural items with a scale (lakeshorelearning) and magnifying glass (cheap in bulk from oriental trading or buy more sturdy ones from lakeshore) surrounded by science books and watch the learning happen. Try to come up with at least a theme for your prepared environment but be prepared for the child to use it however they see fit.
The last thing I saw was a demo of a vinyl cutter from the Goodnow Library in Sudbury, MA.  It's not available for patron use yet, just programming because the librarians just got trained on it themselves. This would be a great addition to makerspace. Be warned the price tag is $2,000 but the results were impressive.  We finally got our Cameo Silhouette ($230) up and running cutting vinyl and other materials but it was a learning curve with getting proper blade pressure. If something comes out jagged, it doesn't look right and we end up re-cutting it anyway. With something this large, we could cut multiple vinyl stickers at once. We could have printed our own summer reading badges! I'd rather have a large size poster printer but it's worth adding to the dream library.

Thanks to all the wonderful presenters who volunteer their time to inspire and share with others!

Monday, April 25, 2016

What to Do With Discarded 3D Printer Filament?

Whenever we change reels on the Ultimaker 2 there is a good stretch of filament that is ribbed and must be discarded. My coworker Larissa made bracelets out of them! The clasp is printed in clear filament.


You can print these in bulk (10 minutes to print a single but you could print multiples at once) and focus a class just on making charms for them.

A note about charms: using jump rings makes the bracelet easier to wear with the charms as demonstrated with the octopus vs the Pokeball and dinosaur. Plus you don't have to worry about the size of the plastic printed ring in Tinkercad too much.  These are 9mm jump rings that come apart with simple pliers.  Of course by having them loose, they will all dangle to the bottom but some 3D printed beads/spacers and jump ring size experimentation will do the trick.  Although the PLA claims to be biodegradable who knows how long that would take. This is wonderful recycling project just in time for Earth Day. 


Monday, April 11, 2016

Adventures in Green Screen

We have a rambunctious crowd of 5-7 graders for our Tinkering Tuesdays in March so we decided to do a month of movie making with our green screen. Using a green screen is really easy these days. We used iMovie and it was a simple click of a button to replace the screen behind the actors with an image found on the internet after everything had been filmed. Here is a very good tutorial. 

Some green screen tips:

1. Make sure green screen is ironed (or unwrinkled somehow and tight). We used binder clips to attach the green screen to our privacy sectional screen but it wasn't ideal. It may causes creases in the background. This was very noticeable during our black campfire scene.

2. Make sure no one wears green or blue or they will look ghostly (unless that is the look you are going for). Fun fact: Lego bases are the exact color of the green screen. She meant to do that.

3. Do not hit the green screen during filming or it will ripple (although it would make a cool ocean effect).
4.  Try to download images while filming. We had a scene where people were falling off a cliff and it was nice to know that it was on the left side of the screen.

5. Use high resolution images. If they aren't the right size, you can crop them in iMovie but pixels do matter. I always limit my image google search to large images only.

6. Tape off the carpet with a line so the kids know where "off screen" is.

Organizational tips:

We TRIED to get them to block out a story at least verbally before we did any scene but as you can probably tell it was basically improvised the whole way (with mixed results).

Rather than full costumes, we stuck to hats and other props we had lying around. We put those out before we even started to try to brainstorm some ideas.

It seemed like we kept to genre projects but it was hard to get agreement. Having short vignettes with a theme could be another solution.

They always wanted to finish the movie in our one hour program slot and not go back to it the next week (even if it didn't make sense!). Probably a generational thing.

The teen librarian and I did the editing and camera work since none of the kids wanted to but those were jobs we would have gladly given to any of them willing.

One of the girls had her violin handy and we used it for the western. I recorded it in iMovie microphone rather than Garage Band which was a mistake. When you put it in Garage Band I could have edited the sound volume without worrying about the actual dialogue. If you just use the microphone in iMovie, I couldn't separate the two.

Here is our best one "Sci-Fi" (IMO):

The Apocalypse from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

Our first project:

Murder Mystery Short Movie from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

Our homage to Clint Eastwood:

Wild West from Duxbury Free Library on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When Makerspace Projects Come to Fruition

I love stories of patrons or staff who use our equipment to make something truly creative and original. We had two of those instances this week:

Our first comes from our talented staff member, Karen, who runs a monthly knitting night at the library. She draws a big crowd as individuals work on solo projects, share their skills and troubleshoot with each other.  These knitting nights have brought out some spinners and loom enthusiasts that have shared their talent as well. Using these new skills, Karen made her own sweater.  It doesn't stop there though.

Over the past year we have increased our collection of unusual items for circulation to include a polymer clay kit which Karen used to make her own designer button for her creation. I told her she could have her own couture business! Read more about this and other projects on her knitting blog. 

The second project came from a pair of siblings who won 1st place in the Pembroke Science Fair with the 3D printing help from yours truly.  It started last Christmas while I was hosting 3D printed ornament classes. My goal was, after these classes, kids would come in on their own to 3D print. Well Kevin, one of my ornament students, did. He went on to make a model of the Empire State Building using tinkercad for a school project which drew lots of attention at school. For his science fair project, he presented on 3D printing and education. His goal was to teach his 5 year old brother how to make a keychain in tinkercad. It was a resounding success! Kevin also practiced the draw to 3D print method with the lighting bolts as well as learning about supports, printing time, and structural techniques by making a penguin and a doll all using our Ultimaker 2 Extended printer. I haven't taught a tinkercad class with as young as 5 but it proved with this next generation it is possible. I was certainly a proud librarian. It just reiterates that fact that libraries have a true impact in the community to help the curious pursue life long learning.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Where do we put a 3D printer in the library?

Where do you put a printer? The best answer is somewhere that is in view when printing. We have 2 Ultimaker 2 printers. One Ultimaker 2 is in the Digital Media Lab in the Reference Department.  Most people do not see the printer there because it is tucked away in a corner but at the same time we don't have to worry about kids sticking their fingers in it or it getting bumped or jostled in the daily hustle and bustle of after school.  Although not directly seen from the service desk, it is still possible to swing by and check on a print or if it's not too loud to hear if something stops.

Another printer that I use more often is the Ultimaker 2 extended in our staff Resource Room where we hold many Tinkering Tuesday and 3D printing specific classes.   This is on the bottom floor where the printer is hidden behind a room divider.  We are a 3 floor building with the children's room located on the 2nd floor and the Reference/YA department located on the 3rd.  Sometimes when I don't get a chance to check on a print this is what happens. It was suppose to be a bus. Did you guess right? 3 hours of printing down the drain. 

In addition to just general mishaps,  my filament spools have been getting tangled which is something that could happen during long prints if the filament becomes loose when changing between reels.  I might not see this issue in time, leaving the printer to continue with the print but not having access to any filament, so it just prints NOTHING.  I fixed this problem by leaving the reels on the floor hooked up to a wooden block so the reels can fix themselves (I hope). Think like a paper towel holder. People online have designed 3D printed ways to solve the problem or using old lazy susans.  I LOVE THE INTERNET!

I finally installed a free app called Presence which turns any old iPhone or iPad into a remote camera that can be accessed through their website on any other device or computer.  All that is required is a reliable wireless network and a free account. If you leave it open it is a bit glitchy but it can be fixed by just reloading the webpage rather than having to leave the desk to go downstairs. It does save time when one is tied to the desk. My Fitbit is going to be quite sad with this development.

Wherever you decide to put your printer make sure it is well ventilated. An office, which is where our first printers started, is not a good idea especially if you are printing in ABS.  Having it out in the open on the floor or setting it up in a room that can have a window open during long prints is ideal. Even printing in PLA, which is what we do, does produce an odor which may or may not at this point be bad for you.