This month we offer nothing less than the state of America's libraries in 2019 and the hot debate in Colorado on whether libraries should get into the local news business. On a more practical level, check out the new free U.K. cybersecurity tool to discover your vulnerabilities, how Canadians are reinventing tool lending libraries, some DIY makerspace game ideas for teens, and how the Contra Costa and Santa Barbara libraries in California have joined the movement to eliminate overdue fines.
We hope you enjoy our peculiar collection of Newsbytes this time around!
The State of America's Libraries 2019
American Libraries reports that according to The State of America's Libraries 2019 report, librarians across the country have fully embraced patron demand for them to serve as career counselors, social workers, teachers, and technology instructors. Libraries give special care to adopt programs and services that support our most vulnerable as champions of intellectual freedom for everyone. Overall, 483 books were challenged or banned by various interest groups in 2018. Many of the most frequently challenged included books with LGBTQ themes or characters. The free full version of The State of America's Libraries 2019 report is available in a Flipbook version or a PDF.
Free U.K. Cybersecurity Tool Lets You Test Your IT Against Cyberattacks
ZDnet reports that a free online tool for testing cyber fitness has been designed by experts at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The tool, known as Exercise in a Box, is designed to boost resilience to cyberattacks based on real-life hacking scenarios. Sign up for Exercise in a Box on the NCSC's website.
National Cyber Security Centre has also released its list of the 100,000 most common passwords to appear in data breaches. By far the most commonly used password revealed in data breaches is 123456. Another one is iloveyou.
Should a Colorado Library Publish Local News?
The Columbia Journalism Review reports that the city council in Longmont, Colorado, is debating about whether local news should be publicly financed and published online by Longmont Public Library. Longmont's local newspaper, the Times-Call, recently closed its newsroom and reassigned remaining editorial staffers to work from its sister paper in Boulder. The Gates Family Foundation funds an initiative called The Colorado Media Project, dedicated to researching ways to strengthen the state's media ecosystem, which has informed the debate.
Canadians Reinventing Tool Lending Libraries
Why buy a drill when what you want is a hole? TreeHugger author Lloyd Alter recently profiled the new tool lending libraries hosted by Toronto Library and also The Thingery in Vancouver. The Thingery is a new kind of tool lending library. Here is how founder, Chris Diplock describes it: "Essentially, you take an empty shipping container, decorate it nicely, and place it in the middle of a community, filled with useful things. Members book items online, then access the container themselves, using a code. Once inside, they scan what they need. Each Thingery is thus self-service and can stay open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. It is managed now and then by staff, who also make seasonal adjustments, such as adding a gardening wall in time for summer. So far there are three Thingeries in Vancouver and plans to expand if all goes well."
The Thingery offers a simple and convenient way to start a lending library of things in your community. A Thingery helps create more resilient communities by reducing a person's ecological footprint, strengthening social connections, and assisting in emergency preparedness.
DIY Makerspace Games for Teens
The fundamental drawback to teen video gaming in the library is the cost of the equipment and the wait in between times young patrons get to play. The teens at Karen Jensen's library in Mount Vernon, Ohio, have asked for board games to play while waiting, but a large number of the games they have requested are expensive, and they often don't accommodate a lot of players. The library has an excellent teen makerspace, so she thought, "Let's address this teen request and get teens involved in making DIY games." Here are some ways she found to encourage teens to create their own games.
- Coding projects like LEGO Computer Coding STEM Activities for Kids or 20 Games to Create with Scratch.
- Bloxels is a kit you can purchase that is designed specifically to be used with a tablet to create your own video games.
- Build your own pinball machine with tools like Makerball or PinBox 3000
- And for yet more clever Legos games, check out 10 Fun Lego Game Ideas Lego Fans of All Ages Will Love
More Libraries Say Goodbye to Fines
The Contra Costa County Library and Santa Barbara Library in California are saying goodbye to fines. Here is how Contra Costa County Library explains their decision: "Eliminating fines removes barriers for our community and makes access easy, equitable, and enjoyable for everyone. Our doors are open for the entire community to take advantage of all the Library has to offer. Ending the collection of overdue fines will also result in more positive customer interactions."
If there are no fines, how will the libraries recover books and other materials that have been checked out?
While they have eliminated overdue fines, both library systems are keeping charges associated with damaged or lost materials. If an item is not returned within 30 days after its due date, a loss charge for the full cost of the items is billed. If the billed item is then returned in good condition, the charges will be removed from the account. Is abandoning overdue fines a genuine trend yet?