Just for Fun: Holiday/Winter Music

Got music? Chances are good that sometime soon you’ll be in need of some holiday or winter-themed music. Do you have a holiday bash coming up? How about a holiday party at your library? Or, maybe you just want something quiet, yet festive to listen to at your desk? See our suggestions below for finding just the right song…

Pandora

Pandora has a free and a for-fee option for your computer or device. I utilize the free version of Pandora, and it suits me quite well. You get unlimited music, but note that there are advertisements with the free service (maybe 2 commercials an hour, and colorful advertisements around the player). There are a variety of holiday stations just waiting for your perusal! Examples of holiday stations include: Classical Christmas, Country Christmas, R&B and Pop Holidays, Peaceful Holidays, and Hanukkah. My favorite is Swingin’ Christmas – with artists like Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Michael Buble’, and Ella Fitzgerald, you really can’t go wrong! music

Jango

Jango provides free internet radio – their claim is that they’re like Pandora, only with fewer advertisements and more variety. Examples of holiday stations available on Jango include: Jango Bell Rocks, Feliz Navidad, Independent Christmas, Christmas Mix, and New Year’s Eve Party.

iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio is a free service that allows you to stream live radio from around the world to your computer or device. In addition, you also have the option to create your own custom stations. iHeartRadio’s holiday selection is somewhat unique because it connects you to live radio stations from coast-to-coast with holiday music in heavy rotation. So, if you’re a radio fan – with DJs and their hoopla – you may enjoy checking out a iHeartRadio holiday radio station. You can also select iHeartRadio’s custom holiday stations.

These are just a few of many internet music options! What are some of your favorites?

We’ve Learned: Staffing News and Updates from Around the Region

We’ve Learned… is designed to keep our readers informed about news concerning personnel in CMLE libraries/media centers. Please keep us informed of any “happenings” regarding staff members in your area so that we can include them in the next write-up! Happenings can include: changes in staffing, awards, honors… you get the idea!

  • Jonathan Carlson is the new Science Librarian at the College of St. Ben’s/St. John’s University. Former Science Librarian, David Wuolu, has moved to Collection Development.

Please be sure to share with us any changes, updates, or exciting things happening in your library!

State Economic Forecast

According to Elaine Keefe, our  MLA/MEMO Library Lobbyist….

“The state economic forecast was released today, and it contained both good news and bad news. The good news is that for the current fiscal year the state is projected to have a $1.33 billion surplus. Under current law that surplus will be used to pay down the education funding shift. The amount the state owes to schools and libraries will be reduced from $2.4 billion to $1.1 billion. The bad news is that the state still faces a $1.1 billion deficit for the next biennium (FY 2014-15). That’s the period that the Legislature will be adopting a budget for in the upcoming legislative session. Forecast documents are posted on  the MN Management and Budget (MMB) website at  http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/fu-current-fore-nov ” The Forecast at a Glance doc  is a short one pager, but if you want specific detail about the School Shift Buyback, take a look at the nitty gritty detail in the 15 pg. Forecast Summary document.

Another helpful general  “take” on the MN budget situation arrived in my inbox yesterday through the MN Budget Project’s,  Budget News and Tools Newsletter.

Economic Forecast Finds No End to Budget DeficitsBudget

“The November Economic Forecast from Minnesota Management and Budget shows Minnesota remains mired in a vicious cycle of budget deficits. The forecast predicts a $1.3 billion positive balance for the current budget cycle, which will go to pay back a portion of the school funding shift. However, there is a $1.1 billion deficit for the FY 2014-15 biennium. When taking the impact of inflation into account, the forecast shows a $2.0 billion deficit in FY 2014-15 and $2.1 billion in FY 2016-17. According to a news release we issued, the continuing budget deficits show that Minnesota needs to move beyond gimmicks and short-term fixes and support the state’s priorities for the long term.

A Minnesota Budget Bites blog post analyzes some of the main issues and concludes:

  • Minnesota needs to reform our outdated tax system so that it raises enough revenues to support our needs, and does so fairly;
  • The Legislature should act to cover more Minnesotans under Medicaid, qualifying us for more federal funds and allowing more than 140,000 low-income Minnesotans to gain access to affordable health care;
  • Congress and the President should end the uncertainty over the federal “fiscal cliff” by taking a balanced and responsible approach to deficit reduction that includes raising revenues and that will support economic growth in the short term and fiscal stability in the long term.

So, I am quietly, carefully optimistic about this forecast (could be worse) and look forward to seeing the Governor’s budget soon. Having said that, it appears the  “federal fiscal cliff” is our biggest concern at the moment, and if not settled, could raise our budget deficit to a much higher level. The bottom line according to MMB is: ” If gridlock leads to us falling over the fiscal cliff, the nation would likely sink into a recession in early 2013. And,  Minnesota’s budget deficit for FY 2014-15 would increase by $1.7 billion, to a total of $2.8 billion!”


Paying for “Free” Cloud Services

Like many, I have to admit that I’m often attracted to “free” cloud services, programs, and software. Who wouldn’t want to save money where they can – especially when the service offered seems virtually the same as what others are paying their hard earned money for. Well, like everything in this world, there always seems to be a trade-off, doesn’t there?

The Journal’s 12/4/12 article The Price of Free Cloud Resources, highlights the positives and negatives of free cloud resources. There are so many cloud-based resources that either are entirely free, or are free but offer a less-robust version of a for-fee resource. Either way, free resources are tempting, both to the average user as well as to libraries, media centers, and schools. Who wouldn’t want to save money where they can, especially now, when many budgets are so dramatically reduced? Additionally, many cloud-based resources are cutting-edge, new, exciting, and flexible! It’s hard not to be attracted and drawn to that.

But with free, comes a catch… For cloud-based resources the catch or the “payment” for the service is often privacy and personal data. According to Jim Siegl, Chair of the Consortium of School Networking, “Data is the most common (yet invisible) fee extracted from users by companies that make search engines, e-mail, and other cloud computing resources accessible to schools.” As schools (or individuals) enter into agreements with a cloud-based resource, they may be required to sign and agree to a contract. It is crucial that the person reading and signing that contract understands the language and the agreement they’re entering into — and what it means to their school and their students (or patrons in the case of a library). However, because cloud computing is fairly new, Siegl believes that federal regulations are about twelve years behind in responding to cloud computing and related privacy concerns. privacy2So what are schools and individuals to do? Read! And read carefully! Understand what you’re reading, ask questions if need be. Research it! (This could be a natural fit for librarians….). In schools and at libraries, individuals responsible for technology services need to carefully analyze the agreements they’re entering into. Additionally, technology specialists (or those that sign the agreements) should consider providing opportunities to inform other parties at their school or library about the privacy issues, and about the data that is being collected. For students, it’s important to remind them that what they do on the internet is not private. And that everything they do leaves a digital footprint, and can be tracked back to them.

Additionally, it’s important to know that even some for-fee resources gather data… Again, contracts must be carefully reviewed and privacy should always be of utmost concern. There will always be trade-offs, but we have to be certain the trade-off is truly worth it, and that the cloud-based service meets our basic privacy requirements (whatever they may be depending upon your library, your school, or your personal wishes).

Interested in reading more on this important topic? Checkout the following links to get started…

Cyber Security for the Digital District from the Consortium for School Networking: Tools and Resources

Privacy Technical Assistance Center: Frequently Asked Questions – Cloud Computing

Scholastic Article: Demystifying Cloud

WebJunction MN Webinars

Check out the WebJunction Events Calendar to see the list of new, free webinars that are available to the full Minitex library community. The calendar also provides access to archived versions of recent webinars.

Several upcoming webinars available to the full library community are:wj_logo

Outreach Programs in Rural Communities: Simple Steps for Surprising Results
Thursday, Dec. 6, 1 p.m. Central

What Would Walt Do?: Quality Customer Service for Libraries
Wednesday, Dec. 12, noon Central

The Impact of an Ice Cream Sundae
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 1 p.m. Central

Creating a Culture of Innovation in your Library and Community
Wednesday, Jan. 23, noon Central

We support libraries!