Topeka’s Techie Toybox

Blue Snowball USB MicrophoneI thought some of you might be interested in my library’s “techie toybox” that I have been purchasing over the summer. What is a techie toybox? In our case, it’s a bunch of gadgets, cameras, and the like that library staff can check out and, well, do stuff with. Here’s the list of gadgets (photos of most can be seen here), and some suggestions I gave (on one of our staff blogs) for starters on how to use them:


The Techie Toybox was started by a generous gift from the Friends. With it, we were able to purchase some “techie toys” with a few goals in mind:

  • keeping our staff current on new technology
  • allowing us to “try out” gadgets our customers are using
  • Allowing us to start creating multimedia content for the digital branch

Here’s what we have (with some starter ideas for trying the techie toys out – don’t limit yourselves to my ideas, though!):


  • Canon Powershot Pro S3 IS – digital camera
  • Canon Powershot A710 IS – digital camera

What can you do with these? Photograph library programs and events, what’s happening at the library, departmental photos, etc – and dump the photos into the library’s flickr account. For starters…

Video Camcorders:

  • Sanyo Xacti HD2 – ultra small video camera, saves to an SD card
  • Sony HDR-SR7 Handycam High Definition Camcorder – consumer-level camera, saves to internal hard drive
  • Panasonic PV-GS320 Camcorder – consumer-level camera, saves to Mini DV tapes
  • Canon GL2 Digital Camcorder – Prosumer-level camcorder, saves to Mini DV tapes
  • Logitech QuickCam Pro 5000 – desktop webcam

What can you do with these? Same as above, but with video instead of audio. Dump videos into the library’s YouTube account. Do something original… Start a weekly “what’s going on at the library” video magazine…

Portable PCs:

  • HP Pavilion tx1000 – tablet PC
  • OQO Model 02 – Ultra portable “fits in your pocket” PC

What can you do with these? See if you can work your desk shift using one of these rather than a service desk PC! Try roaming the stacks (both hook up to our wifi system). You will probably need some type of video editing program too… talk to Digital Services first (unless you already have some editing software, then go for it!).

Microphones and Audio recording:

  • Edirol R-09 24-bit Wave/MP3 Recorder – portable audio recorder, records to an SD card
  • Blue Snowball – upper-end USB microphone
  • Samson C01U – mid-level USB microphone
  • Logitech Desktop Mic – entry-level USB microphone

What can you do with these? Record podcasts! Become a “library reporter for a day!” Podcast your committee minutes (ok, that one’s pretty boring… but might be useful, too). You will need audio editing software if you plan to play much with the audio files. Talk to Digital Services to get Audacity, an excellent, free, open source editing program.

Video/MP3 Players:

  • iPod Touch – new Apple MP3 and video player, and mobile web browser
  • Microsoft Zune – mp3 and video player
  • Video iPod – mp3 and video player
  • Creative Zen Vision – mp3 and video player
  • Sansa 1 gb MP3 player – mp3 player

What can you do with these? Some of them will allow you to listen to our OverDrive ebooks. Others won’t, but our patrons are using them – so get familiar with them! Find out what you can and can’t do – what free ebooks are out there that WILL work… free music sites, etc. Play with the video – see what the video you made with the video equipment (above) looks like in a tiny format… Again, it’s possible that Digital services will need to hook you up with the appropriate software to fully test these out – don’t be afraid to ask!


  • Sony Reader – e-book reader
  • Belkin WiFi phone – wifi phone, can be set up to work with Skype

What can you do with these? The Sony reader already has some books (excerpts, I think) loaded onto it – try it out! Let others know how good/bad it is to read. With the WiFi phone, I plan to hook it up to a year long Skype phone plan for the library – then we can call people with it… using any wifi you can access.

So – that’s what we have. I plan on setting up a “show and tell” on these things, probably late November/early December. Stay tuned for more on that!


So – what techie toys do other libraries have? Please share!

New Song and Video: Social Digital Global Shift

I recorded a new song and video for y’all! This song is all about social networking and how people are using the emerging social web to connect with each other, to communicate… and in my case, to sing songs to my blog readers.

When writing the song, I was thinking about facebook, twitter, MySpace, and all the social connections that are happening 24/7 – I find it extremely fascinating.

Social Digital Global Shift
by David Lee King

I haven’t seen her since high school
never thought I’d see her again
but yesterday I got a facebook request
she asked to be my friend

so I took a little time to catch up
browsed through her photobucket and blog
I watched some funny videos of her kids
and then I wrote this song

’cause it’s a social digital revolution
social digital relationship
social digital communication
it’s a social digital global shift

I have friends around the world
they’re growing globally
some of them live in Saskatchewan
while others live in D.C.



Information Tomorrow has finally arrived!

Information tomorrow: reflections on technology and the future of public and academic librariesCool beans! Rachel Singer Gordon’s newest book, Information Tomorrow: Reflections on Technology and the Future of Public and Academic Libraries, just came out. I know, because I received a copy in the mail today.

And why did I receive a copy? Because I wrote one of the chapters! My chapter is chapter 10, An Experience to Remember: Building Positive Experiences on Library Web Sites. It’s about… you guessed it… experience design and library websites. If you read the chapter and still want more, never fear – I’m 2/3’s of the way through a whole book on the topic. So hold on to those longings :-)

But please don’t stop at my little chapter! There are a bundle of amazing authors in this book, including:

  • Stephen Abram
  • Lori Bell
  • Steven J. Bell
  • John Blyberg
  • Robert Bocher
  • Daniel Chudnov
  • Jill Emery
  • Meredith G. Farkas
  • Megan K. Fox
  • Beth Gallaway
  • Joseph Janes
  • David Lee King
  • Jenny Levine
  • Tom Peters
  • Dorothea Salo
  • John D. Shank
  • Michael Stephens
  • Rhonda B. Trueman
  • Jessamyn West
  • Alane Wilson

Wow – just wow. I’m thrilled to see my name in this smorgasboard of emerging library delight.

What did David do today?

What does a Digital Branch Manager do, exactly? I frequently wonder that (since I AM one and all)… so I thought I’d keep track of what I did today. The list below provides an interesting snapshot into what a librarian might do in a new-fangled, social networking, digital branch management type job:

  • attended a meeting about progress with Second Life projects
  • attended a meeting about the upcoming election year and content possibilities with the Digital Branch (ie., blogs, community sharing, partnerships, etc)
  • created a draft document of digital branch content and staffing guidelines and emailed it out to our guidelines group for review
  • drooled over the library’s new iPod Touch – the last of our Techie ToyBox goodies to arrive!
  • Worked on a digital signage project – gathered some info on LCD panels and stands, then handed it off to someone else to find pricing (ate lunch around then, too)
  • errands and coffee!
  • Wrote an annual review for someone
  • pfutzed around in Second Life until my computer had a serious crash (blue screen and everything)…
  • Rebooted, then examined pics and screenshots for a Second Life presentation at IL07
  • Decided to take my own snapshots of our Teen Second Life project, so back into Second Life… wandered around our island taking snapshots
  • Turned on my Mac, updated my Keynote presentation with snapshots
  • Created some PDF files of upcoming presentations and handouts
  • Throughout the day: scanned a ton of blogs, read and responded to emails, checked twitter (and tried out twitteroo for the second time)
  • And of course, wrote this blog post :-)

Whew! Time to go home.