Creation Club

Creation Club is an after-school club for middle schoolers who are interested in digital creation. At the FFL we have a room called the Creation Lab. In this room there are three desktop computers (2 PC and 1 iMac). On them we have audio, video, image, photo editing, and 3D modeling software. You can also find cameras, iPads, microphones, a green screen wall, and various other odds and ends relating to digital content creation.

Creation Club meets twice a month after school. There are usually short instructional workshops on how to do or use something in the Creation Lab at the beginning of the meeting and then the teens are given the rest of the meeting time to experiment with this new knowledge. Since spring of 2012, Creation Club has created stop motion videos, photoshopped themselves into their favorite movies/computer games, created 3D models, recorded podcasts, created original videos, and wrote and recorded an original song.

Starting in February of 2014, we changed it up a bit away from the purely digital and delved into how digital designs can be transformed into physical objects. The first week of February began with learning how to use the vinyl cutter in the FFL Fab Lab to turn line art into a decal. We used an image editing program they were already familiar with from the photo editing workshops last year  to create original artwork. Following that were two weeks of exploring 3D design using 2D drawings and the FFL Fab Lab’s laser cutter, and then a whole series on video game design (by popular demand).

Gamestar MechanicTo learn about video game design, we used Gamestar Mechanic. They actually provide an excellent set of teacher resources with lesson plans, so you can just jump right in with the kids having no previous knowledge of game design. For four weeks, the Creation Club played games to learn about game design and then had a chance to build their own games and have their peers playtest them and give appropriate suggestions.

Creation Club is now on break for the summer, but I look forward to starting back up again in the fall with some new and interesting projects.


One Year

This month I celebrate one full year as a librarian. I officially began work as the Director of Innovative Family Services at the Fayetteville Free Library on September 1, 2012. Since then I have been involved in a great many things. I started two afterschool clubs for middle schoolers around STEAM subjects, I created LEGO robotics programs, I planned and ran the teen summer reading program at my library, I presented professionally on 6 occasions, was invited to join an ALA Committee, I pushed for a Minecraft server for the library, mentored an intern, was interviewed twice by MLIS students at Syracuse University, coached a First LEGO League team through our very first competition, managed 8 collections, and I can’t even remember what else. I could never have done these things if it wasn’t for the supportive and positive team environment at the FFL. Thank you guys!

I’ve done a lot, but it hasn’t been all work and no play. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of play (because who wants to plan a program for teens that won’t be fun to run). In fact, here you can see some teens playing video games at the Library Overnight end-of-summer-reading party. These boys were playing Let’s Dance and singing along to Katy Perry’s Firework.

Don’t think that I’m done yet! Oh no! I’ve still got a lot of ideas that haven’t been fleshed out yet and I am constantly being inspired to do more and better.

In 2013 I Resolve to Blog Again.

Happy New YearI am, at last, exactly what I want to be: a full time public librarian. As the Director of Innovative Family Services at the Fayetteville Free Library in NY I manage children’s and teens fiction and graphic novel collections, plan teen programs, oversee volunteers, and basically get to be very very cool all the time. So far, for my job I coached a First Lego League team who won an award at our very first competition, went to NY Comic Con, trained patrons on how to use our Makerbot 3D printer, and designed some amazing new programs for middle schoolers. In 2013 I will be presenting at my first professional conference, running the teen summer reading program, making decisions, rearranging spaces, and making some very good things happen.

As I am becoming comfortable in my role I’ll be using this blog to talk about my successes, failures, ideas, excitements, disappointments, and learning experiences. I will also be posting reviews for children’s and YA fiction and graphic novels.

So stay tuned for good times and general library geekery (because that is just how I roll).

Digital Learning Day (#DLDay)

The FFL's DLDay display table with all our handouts and devices.

Yesterday was the first ever Digital Learning Day. It was a day to learn and teach about digital media and technology with an emphasis on trying something new. The Fayetteville Free Library put together a display table showcasing all of our circulating devices, new databases, and all the digital and technological services offered that patrons may not have been aware of already. The table was placed so that patrons were met by the DLDay display as soon as they walked in the door.

Our library regularly offers a special service called Tech Time which is a one on one appointment with a librarian to ask about any technology questions patrons may have. Usually this is something like learning to use a new e-reader or computer program. These Tech Time appointments are very popular and are fully booked at least 4 weeks in advance. One goal of our DLDay table was to give patrons a walk-up all-day open Tech Time. In the four hours that I spent manning the table with the librarians, I showed patrons how to download e-books from Overdrive, explained the various types of e-book readers we circulate and the differences between them, introduced many patrons to our new Mango Languages service, exchanged friendly anecdotes about digital and analog technologies, and basically had a great time geeking out with people who were interested in learning about technology.

My favorite experience was when a man walked in the door to the library and when I greeted him with, “Happy Digital Learning Day!” was told that he bought his first smart phone today. I was able to give him one of the bookmarks we had put together for DLDay with our top ten recommended free apps and he was really excited. There was also a young boy who became entranced with our new Playaway View devices so much so that he completely ignored the iPad on the table.

I learned how to use the Kindle Fire. I tried to check out an e-book using the web browser on a black and white Kindle and almost succeeded (failed because it doesn’t allow multiple web browser windows). I heard a funny story about “analog technology.”

What new technology have you tried?

Training on the 3D Printer

Watching the 3D printer work.

Today at the FFL, the Fab Lab Task Force (aka the Fabtastic 4) learned how to print on the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic. We started with something really small and easy, just learning the basic process of turning it on and sending a design to the printer. We all poked around on Thingiverse, a kind of public repository for 3D models intended for use with the Makerbot 3D printers. Somebody found this design and we all decided it would be fun to print the One Ring.

The process, as I understand it, is as follows:

  1. Connect the Makerbot to the Computer.
  2. Open the ReplicatorG program.
  3. Turn on the Makerbot.
  4. Calibrate it.
  5. Heat the extruder head and build platform.
  6. Open the model and press print.
This is the ring we printed today as practice.

Ta-da! The model prints in shiny plastic and you have a new Thing. You can watch and listen to it print the ring here. When it is printing, the music being made changes depending on the shape of the thing being printed; circles, lines, diagonals, squares, etc. Halfway through the ring print, I realized that all four of us were just staring at the Makerbot. Watching the Makerbot work is like watching snow fall or gazing at a roaring fire. It just pulls you in so you can’t help but stare at it dumbly. We were all guilty of that today (as is evidenced by the photo you see above).

Our next [pre] Fab Lab Open House will be on Saturday, February 18th from 12-2pm and will involve all kinds of making things. And I do mean ALL kinds. Sure, the 3D printer will be there, but so will the juicer, the PS3 Supercomputer, duct tape, and more.

FFL FabLab

While doing my internship, I was honored to shadow Lauren Smedley, the FFL’s Transliteracy Development Director, on the reference desk. If you remember, she taught me about transliteracy at the time and told me a little about a project she is working on called the FFL Fab Lab. This year, I’m honored to be working alongside the other members of the FFL Fab Lab Task Force to introduce the Fab Lab to the library staff and the community at large. On Monday, I’m going to be trained on how to use the software that talks to our 3D printer (a MakerBot) so that we can begin to train the rest of the librarians and begin offering a new service to patrons: check out a librarian for an hour and print a Thingiverse thing! (of course that’s just my name for it, not the official name).

FFL Fab Lab MakerBot printing a cat toy.

Today Pete, Director of Teen Services and fellow FFL Fab Lab Task Force member, was testing out the software on one of our COWs (Computers On Wheels, a nice set of laptops in a rolling cabinet) to see if they would communicate with the MakerBot properly. Thusly, Pete decided to print a cat toy. On the left you can see the MakerBot in action. Many patrons who were in the library at the time and walked past Pete’s desk stopped to chat about the 3D printer and looked very excited when they learned they’d have a chance to try it next month at our next pre-Fab Lab open house on February 18th. The actual physical space that will become the FFL Fab Lab is being renovated and will not be ready for use until probably next year. In the meantime, we’re setting up the community room as a makeshift Fab Lab where patrons can come in and Make. More details to come later….

Cat toy printed by the FFL Fab Lab MakerBot.

The MakerBot prints the 3D objects in one print, so the ball within a ball cat toy is printed with the inner ball affixed to the outer ball by a thin layer of plastic. When it was done printing, I was able to pop the inner ball free using a screwdriver because it was the only thing narrow and hard enough to reach inside and exert enough pressure.

Since I have cats, I was given the honor of bringing the cat toy home with me and letting my kitties test out the printed toy. Darcy was a little wary at first, but she usually prefers toys that are attached to strings. Lizzy on the other hand, had a field day with her new toy (hence the blurry photos).


Tweet-up? No birds involved.

This is cross posted from the Fayetteville Free Library’s Library Schooled Blog. A blog for the LIS students working at the FFL to write about our experiences in school and in the library. 

Since beginning library school in the fall of 2010, I’ve developed a fondness for social media, Twitter in particular. This summer I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. While there, I attended my very first Tweet-up. A Tweet-up is a gathering of people who communicate together primarily through the social media network, Twitter.  In many cases, Tweet-ups aren’t exclusively Twitter users, but other social media networks users as well.  At ALA I was able to meet, in person, the other library school students around the country that I had been tweeting with for a year. It was amazing to enter a room full of strangers and realize that we weren’t strangers after all. So, it was with great excitement that I joined the small group of Fayetteville Free Library staff who organized the FFL’s first ever Tweet-up in September.

I’m not sure who had the idea first, but I was more than willing to help make it happen. We discussed what a Tweet-up is and what the goal of ours would be. We saw it as an opportunity to meet the patrons who rarely come into the library. Having the Tweet-up at the beginning of September was also motivated by our desire to let new Syracuse University students know about our library and the amazing services we provide. In one event, we hoped to bring in patrons who rarely utilized the library as a physical space as well as a brand new group of library users.

To market the Tweet-up we coined the hashtag #ffltup and began an almost entirely paperless campaign. First, we made invitations.  Twtvite is an online tool that lets you create an invitation to an event allowing invitees to RSVP using Twitter or Facebook. We created a Twtvite and a Facebook event for the Tweet-up that were open to the public. We drafted tweets and status updates that alerted our friends and followers to the event by broadcasting the URLs for our invitations. Then we designed posters to hang around the campus at Syracuse University to draw students and included the information in our print and digital newsletters.

For the Tweet-up, we pulled out the library’s new laptops for attendees to tweet or post, set up the gaming station to entertain any gamers in attendance, and put together a photo booth with all of the life-size cardboard cutouts in the library. Captain Jack Sparrow was very popular.  Everyone wore a nametag with their Twitter username as well as their real name, so we could recognize each other. I kept a close eye on the #ffltup hashtag during the event and played the part of the candy fairy, delivering sweets to anybody who tweeted during the event. King David’sprovided the delicious food, and Café 300 sold drinks.  Towards the end of the night, I took a few of the attendees who had never visited the FFL on a tour of the library.

Everyone who attended said they enjoyed the Tweet-up. I’ve personally been a lot more active with the library patrons (especially the Tweet-up participants) than I had been before. I hope that the FFL will be able to host similar events in the future and draw larger and more diverse crowds.

If you want more information or just to say “Hi!” you can tweet me @tophile.