Library Info

April 2010 - Posts

Heading to the Big Apple

I'm afraid I won't have time to post another blog entry before I leave for New York City tomorrow morning. Instead, I'll leave you with this neat little video I saw posted on kottke.org. Neither kottke nor I really know how to explain it. The video is some sort of stop-motion, time lapse video of NYC. If nothing else, it's nice to look at.  The image below is a link to the video page.

Taking the Mystery out of Stain Removal

I often pride myself on my “tallish” stature and ridiculously long arms. I can reach things in high places and barely have to lean over to tie my shoes. The downside is a tendency towards the klutzy side. Combine that with my bad habit of eating while driving and there’s no surprise that spilling is a common part of my life. Until recently, I treated all stains the same with pretty limited success. But the times are changing and I have found the ultimate web resource on stain removal. And yes, I’m excited about a website on stain removal. There’s nothing special about the technology of the website itself but it’s still a handy resource worth sharing.

Researchers at the University of Illinois put together a comprehensive guide to removing over 200 different kinds of stains. The list is quite specific too, including 11 different types of oil and even makes a distinction between coffee with cream and coffee without. After selecting the stain culprit users are shown how to remove the stain from washable fabrics, carpet, or upholstery. I think this is a great example of a simple site, cleanly designed and chock full of great information.

Stain Chart

RFID Magic

As many of you know by now, the library is in the process of switching our circulation to an RFID system. I realized the other day that, when telling patrons about the switch, I often used the phrase “like magic” to explain the new system. As a provider of information I’m starting to feel like I could be a bit more clear.

So here it is. The library is happily moving away from the old school barcodes which must be scanned one by one with a barcode reader. With the new system we’ll use an antenna to detect RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags within books; no scanning necessary. The most noticeable change for patrons will be the new, improved self-check machines. At the new machines users will simply place all their items on the antenna (which is really just a flat surface) which will then read the tags placed in each book/item. See? Like magic! The new machines will also allow users to pay their fines then and there without going to a service desk. The new system also makes it easier for our staff to find misplaced books within the library. We’ve been equipped with an RFID “wand” (see how the magic keeps coming?) which we can wave over the shelves in order to find specific books. We believe this switch will help us better serve your needs.

Interested in other uses of RFID tags? Check out this article from CNET on RFID in passports and this short list by Wired Magazine of creative uses of the system.