January 20, 2010

OverDrive Sets Records in 2009

OverDrive, one of suppliers of downloadable ebooks, eaudiobooks, and video to the Troy Public Library, has announced that 2009 was another record-setting year. This follows tremendous growth in 2008, and again demonstrates the growing popularity of downloadable, on-demand, items for portable devices.

Highlights include:
  • 8.7 million digital titles checked out (63% increase over 2008)

  • 70% increase in audiobook checkouts over 2008, while ebook checkouts increased by 53%

  • The OverDrive digital catalog for libraries grew to 300,000 titles with the addition of 100,000 ebooks, 27,000 audiobooks, and 4,000 music and video titles
Additionally, OverDrive increased support for a variety of devices in 2009. The past year saw the introduction of iPod compatibility for WMA format eAudiobooks, the addition of the EPUB format, and the ability to download items directly to mobile devices running Windows Mobile or Android.

To view Troy Library's OverDrive collection, go to the Library's home page and click on the Downloadable Audiobooks, Video link under the Library Links. Then click on OverDrive.

January 16, 2010

Second Round of Broadband Stimulus Grants Announced

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have announced the second round of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants and loans -- totaling $4.8 billion -- to expand broadband access in the United States. The investment, it is hoped, will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, and create jobs.

NTIA will allocate approximately $2.35 billion in this round for infrastructure projects, and another $150 million for Public Computer Center projects, which will expand access to broadband service at public libraries, community colleges, and other public institutions. RUS will allocate $2.2 billion in this round for broadband infrastructure projects.

This is the second funding round for the broadband programs. The awardees for the first round of broadband stimulus grants were announced in December. Among the winners were three libraries.

The two agencies also announced a series of public workshops to review the application process and answer questions from prospective applicants. One of the workshops will be held in Detroit. Interested parties can register for the workshops at www.broadbandusa.gov.

Grant applications will be accepted from February 16, to March 15, and all awards will be announced by September 30.

January 8, 2010

Tax Assistance for Low to Moderate Income Seniors

The AARP Tax-Aide volunteers, trained in cooperation with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, will help low to moderate income seniors prepare their tax forms at the Troy Community Center each Friday, February 5 to April 9 (except April 2), from 9 am to 3 pm. Appointments are required; no walk-ins will be allowed. For a list of what documents you will need to bring with yourself, and to make an appointment, call 248.524.3484.

If you are homebound, a friend or relative can make an appointment to bring in your information. If this is not possible, call 248.524.3484 and ask that a tax counselor contact you to discuss your situation.

The Troy Community Center is located at 3179 Livernois, north of Big Beaver Road.

January 4, 2010

Erase Your Virtual Life

Are you tired of condensing all your wit and wisdom into 140-character tweets?

Are you frustrated with friending family you haven’t seen in years?

Are you worn out on waving? Miserable with being mashed up, linked in, street viewed and RSS fed?

Here might be your answer. Techcrunch reports that Moddr, a Netherlands-based new media lab, will help you delete enough of your social network accounts to render you a virtual non-person.

The site runs a python script which launches a browser session and automates the process of disconnecting you from social networks On Facebook, for instance, it removes all your friends and groups. On Twitter, it deletes all of your tweets, and removes all the people you follow and your followers. It does not actually delete these accounts, it just puts them to rest. (Here is a video showing how this works with Twitter).

Note Techcrunch’s warning: “This will really delete your online presence and is irrevocable."

Tweet us... er, phone us... if you give this a try at 248.524.3542.

January 1, 2010

The Tech Desk Best of 2009

2009 has been a big year for everyone who works in the Troy Public Library's Technology Department.

We created a new website for the Library, and switched to Polaris, our new Integrated Library System. We aggressively jumped into social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. We have seen record breaking use of downloadable services like OverDrive, and increased demand for our public technology classes. Through it all, we have been keeping you informed of the the latest happenings in library technology and beyond here at The Tech Desk, publishing over 500 posts in 2009.

As is common at this time of year, many publications feature lists describing the best music, movies, books, and more of the year. In the same tradition, here are some of the favorite websites, technology developments, and Tech Desk posts from several Tech Desk contributors.

Phillip Kwik

Favorite websites: Lifehacker (good practical tips), Wired (thoughtful reviews of technology and society)

Favorite new technology: Though not new, the rise of ebooks and ebook readers is the tech story of the year.

Favorite 2009 Tech Desk posts: From Monty Python, A Valuable Lesson in Selling the Product, Publishing at the Crossroads, Daniel Schorr on Twitter and Web-based Media

Mary Hojnacki

Favorite new technology: Twitter. It is a great way to keep in touch and at 140 characters, you don't have to obsess over what to write or how much to write. And if you're a pop culture junkie like me, it's fun to read what witty things your favorite celebs have to say. Twitter was around before this year, but it really exploded in 2009.

Chris Hunsanger

Favorite websites: Lifehacker, Google Reader (favorite RSS reader), Mesh.com (for remote file access and for connecting to computers remotely), Seesmic.com/Brizzly.com (for Twitter access)

Favorite new technology: Google Voice, Skydrive, Droid phones from Verizon

Favorite 2009 Tech Desk post: Job Search Logs May Help Your Job Search be More Successful

John Robertson

Favorite websites: Lifehacker, PCMag.com. This is also the first year I've been really listening to podcasts. Some of my favorites are Cranky Geeks, This Week in Tech, and Sound Opinions.

Favorite new technology: Twitter. Whether it is being used as a tool for political protest, following celebrities, or just talking about what you are doing, Twitter has been one of the biggest stories of 2009 and has now become part of my daily routine.

Favorite 2009 Tech Desk post: Traditional Library Services in the 21st Century: A Visit to the Digital Bookmobile

From all of us at The Tech Desk, thanks for following us during 2009. We hope you have a wonderful 2010.