Dispatches, by Win Shih and Erin Rivero

Voice Assistants

June 1, 2020

Both Alexa and Google Assistant let you run a set of tasks with a single voice command. For example, when you say, “Hey, Google, good morning,” Google Assistant will execute a predefined sequence that can include: adjusting your lights and thermostat; providing a weather report; estimating your commute time; looking up your calendar; providing reminders; … Continue reading Voice Assistants


Dispatches, by Bohyun Kim

A New Tech Revolution

May 1, 2020

In the May issue of American Libraries, without seeking her permission, this column ran with a photo of Professor Kim in all editions. After publication, she notified us of this mistake. We were not able to correct  the print edition of the May issue. We have corrected it in the online, PageSuite, and PDF editions of the column. We apologize for the error.   … Continue reading A New Tech Revolution


Dispatches, by Mirela Ronvevic

Digital Rights Management

March 2, 2020

lack of interoperability and standards among dedicated ebook vendors (because of proprietary DRM technologies) confusion as to what users can and cannot do with digital files inability to use ebooks effectively for research, as limits are placed on activities such as copying and printing absence of any guarantee of access to content in perpetuity For … Continue reading Digital Rights Management


Dispatches, by Michael Meth

Understanding Blockchain

January 2, 2020

Blockchain bears a resemblance to a concept that many librarians are familiar with: LOCKSS. LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) is a digital preservation initiative started by Stanford University Libraries in 1999. Both LOCKSS and blockchain are decentralized, distributed computing protocols that are designed to provide access to digital content and ensure its integrity. … Continue reading Understanding Blockchain


Dispatches, by Marshall Breeding

Personalization vs. Privacy

November 1, 2019

Commercial websites aim to capture as much personal data as possible. This data powers a global advertising ecosystem designed to strengthen retail sales through finely targeted ad placement. To manage websites and internet technologies in ways that reflect their values, libraries invariably must make difficult choices and compromises. While they may not be able to … Continue reading Personalization vs. Privacy


Dispatches, by Erin Baucom

Preservation as Risk Management

September 3, 2019

The best type of program is an interlocking system of policies, workflows, technical solutions, and efforts meant to keep digital objects usable in the long term. Digital objects are made up of bitstreams—sequences of 1s and 0s that require specific software and hardware environments to remain accessible. Some are born digital (those materials with no … Continue reading Preservation as Risk Management



Dispatches, by Emily Rimland and Victoria Raish

Digital Badges

May 1, 2019

In education Digital badges encourage students to cultivate and showcase granular skills beyond their report cards and prepare them for the workplace. In Teaching with Digital Badges: Best Practices for Libraries (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), contributing author Amanda Rose Fuller details a workforce-readiness digital badge initiative developed at Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools. This program, designed … Continue reading Digital Badges


Dispatches, by Jason Griffey

AI and Machine Learning

March 1, 2019

For example, Google’s Android operating system records, measures, and collects information and sends that data to servers. These servers use billions of data points collected from tens of millions of users as input for their machine learning systems. When you ask an Android phone to show you pictures from the beach, a complex set of … Continue reading AI and Machine Learning


Dispatches, by Marshall Breeding

Discovery Services

January 2, 2019

An academic library can assemble several combinations of products, depending on the ways in which it organizes its website and discovery environment and the types of resource management systems it has in place. One critical debate has recently emerged: Should discovery services be bundled or acquired à la carte? Perspectives differ regarding the benefits of … Continue reading Discovery Services


Dispatches, by David Lee King

Making Library Videos

November 1, 2018

Video marketing popularity has surged. According to Cisco, video comprised 73% of global IP traffic in 2016, and by 2021 it is expected to increase to 82%. Your patrons are already consuming videos, so it makes sense for your library to create video content for them. Making videos can be an effective way to share … Continue reading Making Library Videos


Hannah Pope

Virtual and Augmented Reality

September 4, 2018

Budget-friendly VR and AR devices are available that can reach a broad spectrum of library users. One option launched in 2014 is still useful: Google Cardboard. Using a combination smartphone and simple viewer, the Cardboard headset allows patrons to experience a multitude of low-level VR applications. While not comprehensive, it does offer a taste of … Continue reading Virtual and Augmented Reality