Category Archives: Articles and Information

Today is National GIS Day

Image of the Interactive Oil and Gas Map of Wyoming from the Wyoming State Geological Survey.

Wednesday, November 14 is National Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day, recognized since 1999. GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data.

This year’s theme is Discover the World through GIS, with a focus on demonstrating the real-world GIS applications that are making a difference in our society.  As one example, the Wyoming State Geological Survey offers several interactive maps of Wyoming. View them all on their website:

  • Groundwater Atlas — enables quick research and comparison of groundwater wells, groundwater quality, aquifers, and recharge.
  • Interactive Oil and Gas Map — emphasizes oil and gas fields, hydrocarbon reservoirs, and associated infrastructure.
  • Geochronology Map — enables quick research and comparision of published and other publicly available age data across the state.
  • Mines and Minerals Map — investigates mining and mineral data as an aid to understanding these resources. has several story maps available that allow users to experience the changes our world has undergone through the use of mapping. One in particular, 100 Years of the National Park Service, takes you on a chronological journey of the significant events in the establishment and growth of America’s unparalleled system of public parks.




Join the Library of Congress #SerendipityRun

Tomorrow, November 8, the Library of Congress will host a #SerendipityRun on Twitter from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. MST. What is it? Jer Thorpe, the LOC’s Innovator-in-Residence, says:

#SerendipityRun is an experiment in collaborative serendipity. During the run, we’ll see how far and wide we can range across the Library’s vast collections, riding waves of whimsy, curiosity, and chance. On November 8, join an all-star cast of artists, writers, curators and Library staff as we explore the endless sea of possibility that can be found in the Library!

The run will kick off from the @LibraryCongress Twitter account. Follow the activity using the #SerendipityRun hashtag.

During the run, if someone tweets an item from the Library’s collections that connects with you, look at the item on What did the item make you think of? Does it remind you of something or make you curious to find other content? If you find a new item that interests you, tweet that item using the #SerendipityRun hashtag and share your story. Be sure to add the link and attach an image, so others can use it as a jumping-off point for their discovery.

Learn more and join the conversation. We bet there are some wonderful Wyoming items in the LOC collections.

Watch ‘Frankenreads’ from the Library of Congress

Happy Halloween! Live from the Library of Congress, enjoy a reading of the novel, Frankenstein. The live stream began at 7 a.m. MDT, but there’s plenty of Mary Shelley’s horror yet to be heard.

From the LOC:

It has been 200 years since English novelist Mary Shelley captured our imagination with the Gothic classic “Frankenstein.” Watch LIVE as the Library of Congress hosts “Frankenreads,” a Bloomsday-style public read-athon of the novel in its entirety on Oct. 31, beginning at 9AM ET, in the Library’s Main Reading Room. The event is part of a global celebration of nearly 600 partners in 49 countries participating in “Frankenreads” events during Frankenstein Week, Oct. 26- Oct. 31. The excitement can be followed on Twitter at @Events_LOC and #Frankenreads.

10 Time Savers for Library and Tech professionals

By Doug Johnson
Reposted from the Blue Skunk Blog

I have the undeserved reputation of being a hard worker. Our school’s technology department runs as smoothly as one can expect these things to run. I manage to get a few things written and published each year and take an active part in several professional and community organizations. I take all my vacation time, watch too many movies, socialize, and get in a bit of exercise. But I am truly at heart, a very lazy individual.

As media and technology professionals we are being asked to do an increasing number of tasks that are often increasingly complex. As schools reduce “support” personnel, those of us remaining are picking up the slack. It behooves us all to thing about our time management skills. May I share a few of mine?

  1. Never do something you can foist on to someone else. (Oops, I mean delegate.) If you have support staff, use them to the maximum. It’s surprising how talented and creative people can be when you ask it of them. On the flip side, insist that anyone you supervise does not put in unpaid overtime. Period.
  2. Examine whether work that takes up your time is worthwhile. Some tasks are simply not worth doing or not worth doing very well. For many reports and inventories, if you can be 90% accurate that’s good enough. A job not worth doing is not worth doing well.
  3. Examine whether the work is really yours. I have never liked the whine “It’s not my job.” but sometimes we really aren’t the right person for some jobs we are asked to do. I no longer review and recommend curricular software. That is no more my job than reviewing textbooks – it should be done by content area curriculum writers. Be careful about this one through. If a job is mission critical, it can add to your job security.
  4. Some projects just need to be dumped, losses cut. I don’t to do this often, but every once in awhile it’s about all you can do.
  5. Never save anything that you know somebody else keeps. You can always get it from the other person. I only have one small file drawer and I probably only look at half a dozen folders in it. A good filing system for saved files on your computer is a real time saver.
  6. Toss ALL junk mail and just skim journals and magazines. I read one article out of fifty, but still feel fairly in the know.
  7. Use the e-mail delete key early and often. Set your e-mail filter to eliminate as much spam as possible and to direct messages from listservs into their own folders. Read listserv subject headings and mass delete those of little relevance. Only check your e-mail a couple times a day.
  8. Spend the last hour of each week just get the top of your desk cleared off. The illusion of control is important and a neat desk is a good way to start any week. Spend a morning twice a year to clean and organize your office. A few minutes organizing saves lots of time in the long run. (Great task if the network is down.)
  9. Learn to take breaks when needed. Nothing slows me down like a brain-clog – a task that is seemingly impossible to complete. Get away from it, take a short walk, get a fresh cup of coffee, and then come back to it.
  10. Like what you do. If you are miserable in your job, find a different line of work. If you have a passion for your work, it’s not really work at all.

All these suggestions are easy to make, but difficult to practice. But it is important to our patrons, our organizations, and to ourselves that on a daily basis we consciously evaluate how we direct our energies. As Annie Dillard reminds us, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

News in Brief

ARSL 2018 Conference Presentations Now Online
The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) held its annual conference in Springfield, Illinois, in September. Presentation slides and other materials are now available on the ARSL website.

American Library Association 2019 Midwinter Registration is Now Open
The 2019 ALA Midwinter symposium is now open for registration! The conference will take place in Seattle, Washington from January 25-29. This year’s symposium will be focusing on the future of libraries, where participants will examine the future of academic, public school, and special libraries. The conference will reflect the trends that are inspiring innovation in libraries and how they will be able to adapt to the evolving needs of their communities.

ALA Resources Available for Libraries and the 2020 Census
To best position libraries to support our communities in the 2020 Census, the American Library Association is engaging with the Census Bureau and other stakeholders to ensure that libraries are informed and represented in the policy discussions and planning process. ALA is advocating for a fair, accurate, and inclusive Census that recognizes the roles libraries will play in this vital civic effort.

Take the National Geographic GeoChallenge
The GeoChallenge is an annual themed and standards-based competition from the National Geographic Society that challenges students in grades five through eight across the United States to develop a creative solution to a real-world problem. Students form teams and respond to a problem, challenge, or critical issue by using research, collaboration, creativity, and communication to create and present real-world solutions. Teams with the best projects can advance to the regional and national levels. Participants must register to receive the program materials. Registration is now live!

Activate, Collaborate, and Educate: Health Outreach and Programming in Your Community
Register for the Activate, Collaborate, and Educate: Health Outreach and Programming in Your Community course and learn how to  introduce your community members to resources from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and other trustworthy organizations in exciting and engaging ways. This course will give participants the ability to plan a potential health outreach or health program for their organization and to effectively provide NLM resources that are relevant to health needs of their community.

Explore NASA Records Online from the National Archives
Happy 60th anniversary, NASA! On October 1, 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration officially opened its doors for business after Congress passed legislation creating a civilian agency to coordinate U.S. activities in space. In celebration of NASA’s anniversary, the National Archives invites you to explore their holdings online to discover the fascinating story of the creation of this agency and the story of space exploration.

National Writing Contest Launches to Engage Communities with Literature
The Public Library Association (PLA) today announced a new national writing contest that aims to build on the rich legacy of these vital community institutions.
The contest invites writers of all backgrounds to submit short stories on the theme of courage. Winners can receive up to $1,000 and have the opportunity to be published in Short Story Dispensers—ATM-like kiosks that print short stories in a range of genres—around the world.

Reading Motivation Examined in New School Library Research Article
New research published in the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) peer-reviewed online journal, School Library Research (SLR), reports the findings of two case studies focused on student reading motivation. SLR promotes and publishes high-quality original research concerning the management, implementation and evaluation of school library programs. Articles can be accessed for free at

Electronic Records Day: Personal Digital Records

Today is Electronic Records Day, designed to raise awareness among state government agencies, the general public, related professional organizations, and other stakeholders about the crucial role electronic records play in their world.

Have personal records on your computer? Electronic files are much more fragile than paper records, and their long-term survival requires attention and planning. These tips from the Council of State Archivists can help you better preserve your personal digital collections. You can also learn more by attending the Wyoming State Archives program, “Helpful Tips for Creating and Preserving Your Personal Digital Records,” on October 25.

  • Focus on your most important files, such as resumes, school papers, financial spreadsheets, tax returns, letters, photographs, and family histories. Focus your efforts on those with long-term legal, financial, or sentimental value.
  • Print out your most critical files to protect them against loss.  Doing so increases the chances that your documents and images will remain accessible and allows you to focus upon backing up and copying/migrating files that cannot easily be printed out (e.g. databases, video files).
  • Create multiple copies of the files and manage them in different places.  Doing so will keep your information safe even if your computer crashes. Use automatic backup programs (either cloud or local) to ease the burden.
  • Organize your files by giving individual documents descriptive file names.  Creating a directory/folder structure on your computer will help you organize your files.  Write a brief description of the directory structure and the documents for future reference. Remember that someone else may need to make sense of them in the future.
  • Organize your photographs as you create them.  It is much harder to identify thousands of images as time passes. Photo management software can help, but that software will eventually go obsolete. Make sure you can understand your photos without it.
  • Storage media have limited life spans, so you can’t just file and forget. Make sure to check your files at least once a year to ensure they are still readable. Keep track of the formats and media you use, so you are prepared to move the files forward as computer systems change.
  • Convert important files to a universal output format such as plain text (.txt), Rich Text Format (.rtf), or PDF/A (a form of PDF designed to support long-term preservation). These formats are less likely to be inaccessible in the future. Identify files in obsolete formats for conversion as soon as possible.
  • Save master copies of important digital images as TIFF (.tif) and create GIF (.gif) or JPEG (.jpg) copies to share or post online.

Additional Resources:

Libraries Create Community Connections

By Mary J. Soucie, North Dakota State Librarian
Adapted with permission from the August 2018, NDSL Flickertale

Libraries are so much more than book repositories these days. Libraries are still about books but we’re about so much more than books. Libraries, more than ever before, are the centers of their community. The role of the library is to help our patrons individually as well as our community as a whole make connections with information, people and resources in many different formats.

Moms and dads that come to story time with their infants and then toddlers often form lasting friendships with each other as their children grow up. People that meet in book clubs share a love of reading and discussion that can lead to more meaningful relationships outside of book club. I always love when I hear a story of a couple that met through the library or that gets engaged or married at the library because it’s such an important part of their story.

Libraries help people connect to information when they are facing an illness or loss, but also when they are celebrating the next chapter in their lives. Books expand people’s lives in many ways, just as a library does. We introduce people to new ideas, new technologies, and new people.

Librarians make connections with their patrons. I love when we watch kids grow up in the library. We might be the only person that someone talks to when they come in to check out books. We are honored to be part of our patron’s stories in so many ways. My predecessor at my last public library believed that librarians are like bartenders because people trust us with their secrets.

Think about the ways that your library connects people with what they need. It is a vital role that libraries play and an important role to embrace.

Today is Banned Websites Awareness Day

From the American Association of School Librarians

To raise awareness of the overly restrictive blocking of legitimate educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and school libraries, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. On Wednesday, September 26, AASL asks school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning.

Usually the public thinks of censorship in relation to books, however there is a growing censorship issue in schools and school libraries – overly restrictive filtering of educational websites reaching far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Students, teachers, and school librarians in many schools are frustrated daily when they discover legitimate educational websites blocked by filtering software installed by their school.

Learn more, and find activities and resources from AASL.

Banned Books Week Kicks Off Today

Banned Books Week 2018 starts today, September 23, and runs through Saturday, September 29. This year’s theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

5 Reports to Read for Library Marketing

From The ‘M’ Word – Marketing Libraries blog, we picked up this handy summary of recent reports to inform your library marketing. From the post:

A handful of reports released this year offer useful data for marketing and PR planning in the U.S. Knowing your audience is vital, and while you always need good local information, it also helps to see the big picture. These five publications reveal data from across the U.S. for public and academic librarians.

Here are their reading recommendations; read the full post for the full scoop on each. All are free, except  for the academic libraries statistical report from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), which may be purchased from the ALA store.

The ‘M’ Word offers marketing news, tips, and trends for libraries.