Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Toucan Valley Social Studies Fact Cards

Califa is now hosting the Toucan Valley Social Studies Fact Cards.  The current owner was planning to retire, and our members asked us to take on the hosting, so we will be offering the California cards free of charge to all libraries.  

The new URL where you will find the California fact cards is  http://factcards.califa.org .  There is no username or password, and the service is entirely free.

Here are answers to questions that we have received regarding the Fact Cards.

               We have been asked if we can provide usage statistics. Unfortunately, no, we just have a URL up that people can access and we aren't tracking IP's, so there really isn't any way to tell.  

               A number of you wrote that the counties link was not working, thank you. We have taken that link down, accessing the county information is not something Toucan provided us with.

               We only get the California information. Other information that was included such as States or ancient civilizations was not something Toucan provided us with either.

               We will be hosting the site indefinitely.

               We will not be updating the site.

               You are welcome to link to the site.

What Are Fact Cards?
Quick reference in an easy-to-use format
Fact Cards are a series of research resources designed for quick reference for students in grades 4 through 8. The topics covered by Fact Cards are those California, United States, and World topics included in the social studies curriculum in California. For the past ten years, printed Fact Cards have been used extensively in California elementary and middle schools, as well as in public libraries.

Tools for the beginning researcher
A presentation style that offers quick facts in manageable portions makes Fact Cards the ideal reference resource for students who are just beginning to learn research procedures.

A ready reference source for all libraries
While Fact Cards are written at the 4th-, 5th- and 6th grade reading levels, older students and adults appreciate the quick access to basic facts and figures on these topics. Printed Fact Cards have been used as ready reference sources in many public and school libraries, as well as in classrooms.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Edgy Librarian

Califa and Infopeople are proud to present the fifth annual online conference, The Edgy Librarian on February 7, 2013!  Come and join us online (no travel required!) for a full day of learning including: 

- a keynote from Susan Hildreth of IMLS 
- an update on the enki ebook platform created by Califa/Contra Costa County
- Maker Spaces at Mountain View and Palo Alto
- Seed and Tool Libraries from SFPL and Berkeley, repspectively
- Social Media lessons from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transport Library,

The fun kicks off at 8:30am, and goes until 3pm on February 7.  You can watch as a group in a conference room ($75 for a group) or on your own at your own desk ($50).  

Learn more, and register, at http://www.califa.org/edgy
(Once you register, you will be sent the login information a few days before the event.)

Looking forward to seeing you online on Feb 7!

Monday, January 6, 2014

California Public Libraries and CENIC

Despite the recognized benefits of and increasing patron demand for innovative library programs, limited connectivity often prevents librarians in the California State Library System from offering programs and services they perceive would be of value to their patrons. Videoconferencing, streaming media, content creation, specialized software, longer sessions on terminals, and unlimited wireless access are badly needed by many of California's libraries, but insufficient bandwidth thwarts these libraries' efforts to fulfill their vital role in community research and education. In order to empower libraries -- particularly in challenged areas -- to play this role, better connectivity is crucial.
Work is underway to secure funding to connect California's public libraries to CENIC as a sixth segment, with the California State Librarian acting as the libraries' interaction point with CENIC. The Peninsula Library System, a consortium of 35 public and community college libraries, was the first system to connect to CalREN in August of 2013. Final work is also underway to complete a Gigabit connection to the San Francisco Public Library System, a 27-branch library system serving the San Francisco area. The San Joaquin Valley Library System and a group of 9 libraries in the northern Valley of California will be connected in the late fall of 2014. Libraries in California's Central Valley will also be connected to CENIC as part of the Central Valley Next Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project.
During the spring and summer of 2013, CENIC conducted interviews with librarians, asking them to describe current uses of technology in their main and branch libraries, identify the obstacles they face as a result of limited bandwidth, and share ideas they have for using expanded broadband capacity to serve their patrons. (The results of these interviews have been compiled in a series of reports available on the CENIC website.) The responses to these interviews revealed a wide variety of connectivity currently available to California's libraries, and an equally wide variety of needs as a result of the diversity of communities served by libraries throughout the state.
The Peninsula Library System:
Founded in 1971, the Peninsula Library System (PLS) is a consortium of 35 public and community college libraries working together to provide innovative and cost-effective service to their users. Located in Silicon Valley, a region known for technology innovation, PLS library leaders have actively sought out and implemented programs and services that take advantage of the latest technology. For example, the Redwood City Libraries have the highest Internet usage per capita in the country. (These libraries have enjoyed a higher bandwidth than most libraries in the state as San Mateo Community College has enabled them to connect to CENIC's CalREN through the College's own connection.)
System-wide there are 1,590 computer terminals and an average of 700 wireless users per day. More than 75,000 searches are conducted on Peninsula Library System terminals annually. Typical patron uses of technology include social networking, watching videos, e-mail, job-seeking and online applications, word processing, catalog search, general Internet research, printing, and participating in online courses.
However, despite -- in some ways, because of -- the exemplary broadband-enabled services implemented by these libraries (and further described in the Peninsula Library System Report available on CENIC's website), patrons and the libraries themselves face denials of connectivity, extreme network slowdowns during periods of high usage, saturated connections, and other obstacles created by outdated facilities that prevent patrons and libraries from making full use of the connectivity that they currently have. PLS Director Linda Crowe points out the ability of broadband-enabled libraries to become not only curators but sources of content, saying, "Public libraries in California have been bandwidth-challenged. Once the barriers are removed, libraries will not only be able to provide content in the form of expanded programs and services for the community, but they also will have the ability to create it."
The San Francisco Library System:
The main library and 27 branches of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) serve one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, with an extremely diverse populations including highly connected patrons from high-tech focal points as well as recent immigrants and their families from all over the world. To fulfill its mission to serve them all, the SFPL puts out a variety of programs that can be enhanced by improved connectivity -- and that promise to consume ever more bandwidth as time goes on. Such programs include city-wide scavenger hunts, music and arts performances, presentations by and interviews with top authors, and exhibits of interest to all members of the greater San francisco area's ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse populations. Computer, healthcare, and career-related classes, rich media presentations, and a packed schedule of children's events only scratch the surface of the ever-expanding list of vital programs with which the SFPL serves the millions of Californians within its scope.
The San Joaquin Valley Library System:
The San Joaquin Valley Library System is comprised of 10 main libraries and their associated branch libraries in seven counties in the Central Valley of California. In contrast to the more connected population served by the PLS, the communities served by the San Joaquin Valley Library System (SJVLS) have a larger immigrant population and higher rates of poverty than other area of the state. For many residents, English is their second language, and they face high unemployment, obstacles to educational attainment, and a low standard of living relative to other communities in the state.
Among the most poorly funded libraries in the state, the San Joaquin Valley libraries play a critical role in providing access to the 21st century tools that can help address these challenges. Technology is essential to this work; however, the libraries in this system generally have extremely limited connectivity, at best on the lower end of today's connection speeds for an average home. Because of this, many programs that could be of greatest help to the communities served by the SJVLS are simply not possible. States Laurel Prysiazny, Director of the Fresno County Public Libraries, "Low educational attainment, unemployment, and ill health are persistent problems in the communities we serve. Libraries level the playing field and allow access to all. In rural areas, libraries are the community center." Porterville Public Library's Vikki Cervantes adds, "Expanded broadband connects library services with the community's technological needs and priorities; especially in a rural area like ours, it bridges the digital divide to help keep our population competitive in the marketplace of today and the future."
Despite the obstacles created by extremely limited connectivity, SJVLS librarians are working hard to assist people in taking full advantage of what technology resources the libraries can provide and are eager to gain the connectivity that will permit them to implement badly needed programs. A full list of such programs, as well as a more in-depth look at the obstacles faced by the SJVLS libraries, can be found in the San Joaquin Valley Library System Report available on CENIC's website.
Readers of the CENIC Update will be kept informed as to the progress of this project to ensure that California's public libraries have the state-of-the-art connectivity that will enable them to fulfill their vital mission as part of the state's research and education communities.
From: cenicupdate, volume 16, Issue 3: Fourth Quarter 2013