7 Obscure and Intriguing NYC Libraries

I’m always looking for new and interesting libraries to visit and lately I’ve come across many right in my own back yard. Here are 7 libraries I would love to visit (and one of which I actually work in!) located in New York City.


1) The Explorers Club


Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Explorer’s Club is “an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.” Their library collection boasts 13,000 volumes; 5,000 maps as well as 550 linear feet of archives and manuscripts, and 900 objects in its art and artifacts collection. Visitors can arrange to use the library by appointment.


2) The Conjuring Arts Research Center

This fantastic magic library holds “12,000 volumes devoted to magic and its allied arts. The collection is noted for its emphasis on early conjuring books, including more than a thousand volumes printed before the year 1900. Its 500 plus volume collection of conjuring books printed prior to 1700 is one of the better collections of early magic books.” The library is located in the heart of Manhattan, has closed stacks, and arranges research appointments for interested visitors.


3) The Grolier Club


This beautiful membership club was founded in 1884 and boasts a 100,000-volume collection of books about books, the majority of which are made up of their 60,000-volume collection of bookseller and book auction catalogues. The library is open to members only with the exception of non-members whose focused research requires their unique holdings.


4) New York Society Library

This Upper East Side private institution is the city’s oldest library, founded in 1754. The collection contains nearly 300,000 volumes reflecting the “reading interests of its members over the last 260 years. Strengths of the collection include fiction and literature, biography, history, social sciences, the arts, travel, and books about New York City. Over 4,000 volumes are added annually. The Library subscribes to over 100 periodicals, maintains an excellent collection of audiobooks, and offers access to various electronic resources.” The library is open to members, membership is open to anyone over the age of 18.

Read the full post 7 Obscure and Intriguing NYC Libraries on OEDB.org.

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Free and Easy Ways to Display a Live Tweet Wall

In February I organized a pecha kucha style panel discussing topics related to law librarianship in the digital age and I ran a live competition looking for who could tweet the most about the panel. The prize was a copy of the book Law Librarianship in the Digital Age which was appropriate as the panel of speakers was made up of many of the contributing authors. It turned out to be a great way to get people excited and engaged with the speakers and it worked really well, resulting in many people tweeting about our discussion. Therefore, I wanted a way to display the live tweets as they were coming in to keep everyone excited about the contest. But I had a very hard time finding a good, free application which would enable me to project the display I wanted. Since then I’ve found four tools that will easily allow you to display a live tweet wall as the tweets come in, whether it’s for an event you’re hosting, for your library’s flat screen TV display, or simply for following a topic.


1) HootFeed


This fantastic service is provided by HootSuite and is absolutely free. Simply enter a keyword or words you’d like to display tweets about and click “Launch”. You’ll notice that HootFeed also has an optional profanity filter which may really come in handy on conference day!


2) Tweet Beam

Tweet Beam

This service is definitely the most visually appealing of all the tweet walls available. Simply enter a hashtag or keyword you’d like to include and get ready to behold an image assembly of Twitter profile pics of everyone who is currently discussing that topic. As each tweet comes in it is displayed front and center with the user’s profile pic.


Read the full post 4 Free and Easy Ways to Display a Live Tweet Wall on OEDB.org.

A Guide to Little-Known Image Collections with Millions of Free, Hi-Res Images

I’m often asked where to go to find high-quality and hi-resolution still images for reuse so I’ve put together this guide.  There have been several new image collections that have opened up to the public just within the past year that not many people are aware of yet, but they offer access to thousands, or in some cases millions of outstanding photographs that can be downloaded for free.  Here’s a quick guide to finding those collections.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last month, the Metropolitan Museum of Art made over 400,000 images available for free download for non-commercial use as a part of its Open Access for Scholarly Content initiative.  These beautiful images include the treasures owned and displayed by the Met such as famous paintings, armor, statues, art objects, and more.  All images can be found on this website and are identified with the acronym OASC.

Wellcome Library

In January, The Wellcome Library in London made 100,000 art and medicine images available online for open use.  This collection is where to look for offbeat, bizarre photos including medical art of all types including manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements.  The images here are absolutely fantastic.  The images may be used for commercial or personal purposes, with an acknowledgement of the original source (Wellcome Library, London).


Getty Open Content Images

Last summer, the J. Paul Getty Trust announced that they will be “making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose.” There are now 87,000+ images in that collection.  Images include paintings, manuscripts, drawings, photographs, and more and feature works by masters Rembrandt, Van Gough, David, and more. Open content images are identified with a “Download” link which can be found by clicking into the “Primary Title” link to access the full record.


LIFE Photo Archive

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.  Images include famous personalities such as Marilyn Monroe, Charles Lindbergh, etc. as well as photos of American history and Americana.  You can browse the collection from here or add “source:life” to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive. For example: computer source:life.  These are for personal, non-commercial use only.


Museum of New Zealand

The Museum of New Zealand has recently made over 30,000 images available for download and re-use in high resolution as a part of its Collections Online library.  It’s best to search this page after first checking the “with downloadable images” check box so that you only get results that are free for download.  Each image specifies its license, many of which are remixable and have no copyright associated with them at all.


NOAA Photo Library

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration makes thousands of stunning high resolution images available for download for free.  The photo library is organized into collections such as the National Weather Service Collection containing over 4,000 weather-related images, the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) Collection, the Fisheries Collection, and many more, see the full list of collections here.  The photos can be viewed by browsing the galleries or the catalogs for each collection.  It’s better to view the catalogs in all cases since not all images are included in the galleries.  Most NOAA photos and slides are in the public domain and CANNOT be copyrighted while a few photos are known to have copyright restrictions are so noted. Credit MUST be given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.



The National Archives and Records Administration offers a fantastic library of photographic images including photos of Churchill and Roosevelt, Nixon and Elvis, JFK and Jackie, World War II photos, and many many more historical photos.  You can find many of them through the above-linked online exhibits page, while others are available on their Flickr page,  and thousands more can be found within their Online Catalog.  All of the U.S. National Archives’ images that are part of The Flickr Commons are marked “no known copyright restrictions.” As for the rest of the site; “generally, materials produced by Federal agencies are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.”


Read the full post A Guide to Little-Known Image Collections with Millions of Free, Hi-Res Images on OEDB.org.

10 Lesser-Known Horror Films Based on Books

In the spirit of Friday the 13th, here’s a quick guide to ten great but lesser-known horror flicks that were based on books.  You’ll also find information about how you can watch them online and/or order them on DVD.

1) Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula

Directed by: Jesus Franco
Based on the book: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Where you can watch the movie: You can find the DVD on Amazon.
This version of the classic Bram Stoker tale is one of my personal favorites.  It stars Christopher Lee as the mustached Count who grows younger as he drinks.  Herbert Lom portrays Van Helsing, and Klaus Kinski steals the show as the mad Renfield.  If you’re a horror fan, this is a must-watch.


2) Black Sunday

black sunday
Directed by: Mario Bava
Based on the book: The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol  by Nikolai Gogol
Where you can watch the movie: It’s available on Netflix Instant-Watch.
Horror starlet Barbara Steele takes on a double role in this film, portraying a witch who was burned at the stake and her beautiful innocent double, Katia.  This Mario Bava’s masterpiece of horror cinema is based loosely on Gogol’s “The Vij”.

3) The Masque of the Red Death

Directed by: Roger Corman
Based on the book: Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems
Where you can watch the movie: It’s available on Amazon Prime Instant Watch
In this Roger Corman classic, aristocrats dine and dance while the plague claims the common folk. Vincent Price is outstanding as the satanic prince, Prospero in this dazzlingly colorful Poe rendition.

4) Countess Dracula

Directed by: Peter Sasdy
Based on the book: The Blood Countess by Andrei Codrescu
Where you can watch the movie: You can find the DVD on Amazon.
Ingrid Pitt is brilliant as the wicked Elizabeth Bathory, Countess of Hungary. The film stays true to the legend of the aptly named “Countess Dracula”, who was said to have murdered 612 young women and bathed in their blood to restore her youthful beauty.

5) Nightbreed

Directed by: Clive Barker
Based on the book: Cabal by Clive Barker
Where you can watch the movie: It’s available on Amazon Prime Instant Watch
Based on Clive Barker’s “Cabal”, Aaron Boone is plagued by nightmares and unexplainable blackouts when he seeks psychiatric help. His calculating psychiatrist, (horror director David Cronenberg), convinces him that he is responsible for the recent rash of serial killings in the area.

Read the full post 10 Lesser-Known Horror Films Based on Books on OEDB.org.

54 Library Stories You May Have Missed in May

The upcoming summer break did nothing to slow the activity of library writers last month and actually the number of articles, blog posts, and videos increased significantly over previous months!  This past month’s offerings include stories on Twitter applications, the Vatican library digital collection, eBooks, and more.  Be sure to scan these 54 library stories to get caught up on your LIS reading!



  1. 8 Tips for Libraries to Incorporate Tech into their Summer Reading Programs
  2. Responding to the second wave of the Digital Divide
  3. Library social media resources
  4. 5 Ways Libraries Can Use Vine for Marketing
  5. NYPL abandons controversial renovation plan
  6. 35 Library Stories You May Have Missed in April
  7. 10 Finance Hacks for College Students
  8. Librarians reimagine book clubs with the Help of Technology
  9. 7 Astonishing Objects Made with 3D Printers
  10. 5 Great Sites for 30,000+ Free 3D Printing Models
  11. The practical librarian’s guide to collection development
  12. What you need to know to take a librarian job abroad
  13. Vatican Library moves into the 21st century
  14. Surviving cataloging class
  15. How to create a gorgeous planter from an old hardcover book
  16. Secret libraries of New York City
  17. Ebooks and early reading skills
  18. How to identify Book Club editions
  19. Read the full post 54 Library Stories You May Have Missed in May on OEDB.org.

How to Conduct Library Website Usability Studies for Free

cardsortWe’re currently redesigning our website at The New York Law Institute library and we our goal has been to create a user-centered design with lots of input from our actual members and users. We started out by conducting a complete heuristic evaluation of our website interface and structure to identify problems and pain points. We also performed a content audit in which we created and analyzed a complete content inventory of our site. See below for some helpful how-to guides to get started with these types of exercises. These were great starting points because we were able to identify and analyze what we currently had to offer as far as our website experience. A redesign doesn’t mean that you throw everything out and start from scratch, so we wanted to leverage what we had that was working but also think about new ways to provide a better user experience. We decided to re-write quite a bit of our content before even starting to build the new redesign and that was an easy and manageable first step.

Guides to Conducting Heuristic Evaluations


Guides to Conducting Content Audits


After we analyzed our current website structure and content, we came up with a strategy for how we wanted to improve it. We came up with improvements such as making our design responsive so that it would adapt to any size screen for our mobile users, drop-down menus for navigation, a site-wide search that would also allow for catalog and federated search options, an improved events calendar, etc. Next we wanted to use language and navigation that our members would find the most natural. To this end we conducted card sorts, both online and live, face-to-face.

Card Sorting is a method or technique for discovering how website users categorize information so that you can design your information structure in a way which is navigable and findable by your users. The method involves asking participants to sort sets of cards which have items, names, pages, or sections of your website printed on them into groups that make sense to them, and sometimes to assign labels to those groups. This type of usability study can be conducted in person and/or completely online. I have a workshop with step-by-step instructions for implementing a card sort available here. This workshop will also walk you through how to analyze the data you collect from your sort. And please see below for some free online card sorting tools.


Free Online Card Sorting Software

The results of the card sort usability tests that we ran were invaluable. We not only gained insight into how our members would prefer our navigational structure to be designed, but we also found out that our members weren’t understanding the way that we worded the names of certain pages. This gave us a chance to rename several parts of our website and see if those page names did any better in the following studies. Card sorts are also a great way to test out a page name that one person on the staff may want, but others disagree on it – it eliminates internal arguments because the results of what users want speak for themselves!


Read the full post How to Conduct Library Website Usability Studies for Free on OEDB.org.