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November 2019 Library Tech Newsbytes

This month we offer news about the launch of the free GoFundMe Charity service, some non-obvious digital privacy techniques for your patrons from David Pogue, and breaking news on Vancouver Library's new canine library. What is a canine library, anyway? We also cover the latest in the saga of banned Harry Potter books, the food pantry library in Independence, Missouri, and librarian Betsy Kennedy's tips on how you can set one up too. Don't miss our coverage of what a public library ransomware attack looks like and Patrick Sweeney's useful hacks for making the library a comfy home office.

Where else can you find such a motley collection of library tech news? Here's your library tech newsbytes for November.

The New GoFundMe Charity: Free Crowdfunding for Your Library Foundation or Friends Group

Just in time for #GivingTuesday 2019, on December 3, GoFundMe is launching a new free-to-use fundraising platform for nonprofits of all sizes called GoFundMe Charity. The company has also created a donate button that can be integrated into any site to donate money wherever people want to do so. Both will roll out in November. If your library has an associated 501(c)(3) foundation or friends group, you can use this crowdfunding service at no cost.

David Pogue's 10 Tips to Avoid Leaving Tracks Around the Internet

Longtime New York Times personal computing columnist David Pogue has come out with some non-obvious digital privacy techniques to limit your digital footprint. He goes beyond the usual suggestions to use a program that memorizes your passwords, making every password different, and installing an ad blocker in your web browser. He suggests things like abandoning Google search in favor of a nontracking browser like DuckDuckGo and using the end-to-end encrypted email service ProtonMail. When you do sign up for things online, switch up personal details about yourself like your gender, age, and interests. He also counsels using a virtual private network program like the free TunnelBear when using public Wi-Fi — even in the library.

Vancouver Library's New Canine Library

The CBC reports that Vancouver Library patrons in British Columbia can borrow a very different kind of library material: a dog. Patrons can "take out" one of eight dogs at the "canine library" for a 15-minute session at Emery Barnes Park downtown. The dogs are specially trained therapy dogs that regularly participate in a children's reading program. "They are vetted with all kinds of people and stimuli," said Ashten Black, who oversees the therapy dog program at St. John Ambulance, the organization providing the dogs.

Harry Potter Banned Again?

Forbes reports that Nashville-area St. Edward Catholic School recently banned the Harry Potter books for their depiction of "actual curses and spells." However, censoring Harry Potter has been happening for decades and probably will keep happening. Harry Potter used to be the number one banned book in schools, according to Caldwell-Stone. These days, she said, books with LGBT themes are increasingly being targeted, both with lawsuits and with other extreme measures.

The Food Pantry Library in Independence Missouri

KSHB TV in Kansas City reported on the new food bank library opening up at Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Missouri. It all started with an empty building. The Mid-Continent Public Library and the nonprofit Community Services League decided to create a library and food pantry all in one. Organizers did lots of research to see if there is anything like this in the nation but weren't been able to find one. They believe that the library and food pantry combination in Independence is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Steven Potter with the Mid-Continent Library said, "We see a thousand families a month agency-wide. The pantry is the only source of food some people have. It allows them to put money towards that utility bill, towards daycare or other expenses. This gives them a little added safety net." Since June, the library-pantry has checked out more than 1,000 books and has seen the number of people using the pantry double each week.

This actually isn't the first of its kind. Betsy Kennedy, library director at Cazenovia Public Library in upstate New York near Syracuse, did a WebJunction webinar in 2015 on how they set up their successful food pantry library project. View the free webinar recording here to see how she set her program up.

What a Public Library Ransomware Attack Looks Like

Here's more news from upstate New York. The Onondaga County Library computers are finally restored after ransomware attack. Last summer, the library's computer systems were disabled by Ryuk ransomware. It was the same malware that infected the Syracuse City School District's computer system four days earlier. The library computer system was shut down as a precaution when an abnormality was detected. The county restored the library's system through an information technology company that was already under contract. The restoration work took about a week so that library users could browse online catalogs, obtain or replace library cards, download books, and use public Wi-Fi in branches. The library had to extend loan periods and waive late fees for overdue books until the branches could catch up with a backlog to check in returned books on the computer system.

Useful Hacks for Making the Library Your "Home" Office

EveryLibrary.org's Patrick Sweeney wrote an interesting how-to piece on some easy insider tips for making the library your home office. Here are some of them.

  • Find out where and how to use wireless printing, scanning, and fax machines for public use.
  • Bring a sweater for rooms that are a bit too cold plus headphones or earplugs if things get noisy.
  • Use study rooms to do meetings or phone calls.
  • Introduce yourself to the staff. They may well be willing to put aside useful library resources for you or make you aware of specialized collections.
  • When you need a break from work or want some inspiration, go and browse the stacks.

We hope you like our selection of newsbytes this month!