Alison J. Harris



How Much Does the Library Save You?

One of the challenges facing public libraries is providing services that increase community prosperity. Though the uninformed might see public libraries as passé, they are still seen as trusted institutions in the community. It only makes sense that those in need would turn to these institutions to fulfill their needs, whether it is to learn a new skill or using an open area to collaborate with others.

An excellent way to show just how the library can help the community is the Personal Savings Calculator featured on the State of Florida Division of Library and Information Services. Adapting the Maine State Library’s calculator for Florida use, staff and library staff can now see exactly how much the library saves them. Though a simple spreadsheet could also show this information, I think the calculator really drives the point home by allowing users to see specifically how much they save.

Value of Florida Public Library Services

Input Your Use Library Services Value of Services

I also feel that customers rarely understand the value of their library card, since I frequently help library customers who have spent years buying eBooks for their Kindle or other eReader device before they ever turn to the library for free content. In addition to this, I’ve investigated personally how much computer classes on advanced software, such as QuickBooks, can cost. Library customers could save hundreds of dollars a year easily by just attending digital literacy classes, instead of going to other institutions like universities or for-profit technology focused businesses in the area.

Databases can also save customers even more, especially with services like, which normally costs $250 per year of an annual subscription.

While I think the Personal Savings Calculator will really enlighten the community, I believe marketing plays a large part on increasing community prosperity. The services and resources public libraries offer can and often do make a large impact on society, but it all hinges on the community understanding exactly what their library card can offer them. Outreach and marketing campaigns should be happening regularly to help customers think of the public library first if they want to learn, create, and collaborate.

March 30, 2015 , Comment

A Slice of Raspberry Pi on Pi Day

I just ordered my own personal Raspberry Pi 2 and I’m still deciding what to build with it. I’ve always been fascinated with building computers, particularly computers that have a small physical footprint. I think a great idea would be a Raspberry Pi home server. I’ll be moving to a new home soon and it would be a neat addition.

Another option would be a retro gaming console powered by an emulator. Digital Trends just featured an article about it today and gaming enthusiasts everywhere (including myself) would revel in a chance to play old-school video game classics.

I also think building a retro gaming machine would be an awesome program at the library that would appeal to teens and adults. I still need a few more parts, but I can’t wait to build!

March 14, 2015 , Comment

THPL’s Makerspace Featured in American Libraries

The Hive, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library’s new makerspace housed in downtown Tampa, was featured in American Libraries this month! The article is a Q & A discussion with representatives from three library makerspaces across the country. It was really interesting to learn about other libraries’ experiences compared to those of THPL’s. It’s also great to show others in the library profession what you can do with makerspaces and what the future may hold.

March 3, 2015 , , Comment

eBooks in 3-Clicks or Less?

American Libraries recently featured a blog article about the New York Public Library’s project, Library Simplified. Library Simplified is a great new project to streamline the process for library users to download eBooks.

While helping library customers download content from digital resources like OverDrive, I often empathize with the frustration they have with multiple services that all require a different set of steps. In fact, the article discusses the testing done on the number of steps needed to set up and access NYPL eBook collection, which turned out to be around an (unsurprisingly) 19. Library Simplified seeks to create a way for customers to discover, borrow, and read digital content in only a three step process.

The article does ask, “Does this sound like science fiction?”, but I’ve always felt that the consolidation of electronic resources into one searchable catalog was a logical progression of technology. I’m excited to see how the results of the project turn out in September, at the end of the IMLS grant.

Interestingly, the grant is actually used to fund the full-time position of Product Owner (PO) for the Library Reading Experience, a non library user design expert who leads a technical team in collaboration with NYPL to develop the project.

February 21, 2015 , Comment



I’m very excited to be graduating today! I’ve learned so much over the last two years, both in my job and through the coursework at USF. Librarianship is at a critical time in society, so it will really be exciting to make an impact and knowing everything that is possible.

Libraries will be evolving to places that meet community needs, rather than hold onto traditional services that don’t fit the surrounding environment. I can’t wait to see what librarianship is like ten years from now!

December 13, 2014 , Comment