How to find more of yourself at the Indiana State Library

Life’s Questions
Have you ever wondered where you come from? Maybe your question is less about origin and more about why you and your family are they way they are. It could be that you’re interested in history or tradition or maybe you’re seeking answers to life’s biggest question – “Who am I?” Whatever the reason might be, know that you’re headed in the right direction of discovery when you start with genealogy. DNA testing and genealogy research help you go beyond what you know from relatives or general historical documentation. Genealogy research and workshops are provided for free by the Indiana State Library. By saying “yes” to further discovery at the library, you are saying “yes” to the next individual step into your personal family history.

“What does this mean for me?”
If you’ve started to think about family heritage, you might be wondering how to begin. There are so many people, dates, locations and events to sort through, that it would be almost impossible to do it alone! That is the exact reason why ISL’s genealogy collection, with more than 40,000 print items, exists. With an extensive collection and resources to aid you in your genealogy journey, you will not have any trouble glimpsing into the history of your fellow Hoosiers. From marriage and birth records to death databases and indexes, there are many ways to begin with the basics. A “Researching Hard-to-Find Ancestors” guide is available for free. Manuscripts from the past are available to browse on the website as well. Online resources like webinars and videos are located easily under the Collections & Services, Genealogy Collections tab for your convenience.

This blog post was written by Jenna Knutson, University of Indianapolis student. 

The Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection at Indiana University

Today we welcome guest blogger Andrew Rhoda of the Lilly Library at Indiana University. Rhoda is the world’s only puzzle curator.

The Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection at the Lilly Library is a collection of puzzles designed by the world’s most innovative designers of fascinating and confounding objects. The library’s collection of mechanical puzzles is the only one in the world available to the public. Mechanical puzzles are different from crosswords or jigsaw puzzles, which are what most people think of when they think about puzzles. In the book “Puzzles Old and New,” Jerry Slocum and his co-author Jack Botermans define a mechanical puzzle as, “…a self-contained object, composed of one or more parts, which involves a problem for one person to solve by manipulation using logic, reasoning, insight, luck and/or dexterity.” Some examples of well-known mechanical puzzles are the Rubik’s Cube, the tangram and the 15-puzzle.

The Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington. Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

Mechanical puzzles have a long history. The oldest known mechanical puzzles were not even intended as entertainment. Romano-Celtic puzzle padlocks dating to the second century B.C.E. were small, ring-sized locks used as security measures. In the 19th century, the popularity of mechanical puzzles as entertainment increased. The first catalog of puzzles appeared in 1893, written by Professor Hoffmann. This book featured puzzles of all kinds; however, it is most notable for its descriptions of what we know as mechanical puzzles. These puzzles are known as Hoffmann Puzzles, as this work is the first historical reference for these puzzles. In recent years, technology has changed how mechanical puzzles are made. Throughout the 19th century and early 20th century, puzzles were usually made of wood or metal. However, in the later 20th century and 21st century, new technologies have emerged, like three-dimensional printing, that are changing how puzzles are made. Modern puzzles designers now create these ingenious objects using classic techniques and modern technology to challenge puzzle solvers.

While most interlocking puzzles are small enough to be held in the hands, some interlocking puzzles can be quite large. For example, this “Wooden Robot Puzzle” is around three feet tall. Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

Slocum was born near Chicago, and in 1939, he began collecting puzzles at the age of eight when his parents brought back a puzzle from the New York World’s Fair. That puzzle was the Trylon-Perisphiere, which was a small plastic interlocking puzzle. From that point, Slocum began collecting mechanical puzzles of various kinds. He began researching mechanical puzzles, and when he could not find puzzles to purchase, he learned how to make his own copies of those puzzles.

Sequential movement puzzles feature a solution that requires a sequence of moves to solve the puzzle. The Boss Puzzle, a version of the 15-puzzle, has a certain set of moves that puts the numbered blocks in order. Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

His research into mechanical puzzles inspired Slocum to begin publishing articles and books on mechanical puzzles. His first published work was an article for the October 1955 issue of Science and Mechanics magazine, titled “Making and Solving Puzzles.” It was a short article on what mechanical puzzles are, and how to build some simple puzzles. From that, Slocum has gone on to publish general books on mechanical puzzles, such as the aforementioned “Puzzles Old and New,” and books on specific puzzles, such as “The Tangram Book” and “The Famous 15 Puzzle.”

In 1993, Slocum established the Slocum Puzzle Foundation to promote the use of mechanical puzzles both for entertainment and for fostering creative thinking and problem solving. He has also worked with various institutions across the country to exhibit puzzles from his collection.

Interlocking puzzles come in many different shapes. They can be simple to very complex, like this puzzle “Polyhedron 32” by Yashirou Kuwayama. Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

Through his research, Slocum developed a system of categorization for mechanical puzzles. The system includes ten categories, defined by what needs to be done to the puzzle to solve it. For instance, the first category is “put-together” as the solution is achieved by putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Modern puzzle designers have further developed the categories, both by developing specializations in those categories, and by combining qualities of two or more of them. To match these developments Slocum added sub-categories in his system.

The categories are:

  1. Put-together puzzles – To solve, you assemble the pieces in a predetermined arrangement.
  2. Take-apart puzzles – To solve, you disassemble the puzzle or open a compartment.
  3. Interlocking solid puzzles – To solve, you disassemble and reassemble the object.
  4. Disentanglement puzzles – To solve, you remove one piece such as a ring or string from the puzzle and put it back.
  5. Sequential movement puzzles – To solve, you repeat a certain sequence of moves a number of times.
  6. Dexterity puzzles – To solve, you use either gravity or some other type of motion.
  7. Puzzle vessels – To solve, you either take liquid from or pour liquid into the vessel without spilling.
  8. Vanish puzzles – To solve, you explain how parts of the puzzle disappear when the pieces are rearranged.
  9. Folding puzzles – To solve, you to fold the puzzle in such a way as to reveal an image.
  10. Impossible puzzles – To solve, you must explain how the puzzle was made.

Put together puzzles can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional, such as Piet Hein’s “Pyramystery” shown here. Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

To solve some puzzles in these categories, like the vanishing puzzle or impossible puzzles, the moving of pieces is not the point, but rather the description of how the puzzle works or was made.

Impossible puzzles do not require any disassembly; you only have to answer a simple question: How did the arrow get through the bottle? Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

When Slocum began thinking of where he would donate his collection, he selected the Lilly Library because, unlike a museum, donating his collection to a rare books library would mean that his whole collection would be available for patrons to solve. While traditional museum might only display a few puzzles at a time through exhibits, the Lilly Library provides access to the whole collection for patrons who visit the Reading Room.

In 2006, Slocum began donating his collection to the Lilly Library. Since that time, he has been donating portions of his collection every year. Currently, the Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection consists of over 30,000 of puzzles, in addition to books and manuscripts relating to mechanical puzzles. These materials are accessible in the Lilly Library’s Reading Room and – barring a puzzle being in conservation – the contents of the puzzle collection are available for use. When requesting puzzles to consult in the Reading Room, it is best to allow three to four days processing time so that all items can be gathered for the visit. The puzzle collection is searchable through the Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection database.

Puzzle locks, such as these Viennese Master Craft Locks from the 19th century, are the oldest category of mechanical puzzles known. Puzzle locks are a sub-category of take apart puzzles. Courtesy of Indiana University Libraries.

A permanent exhibit of highlights from the collection is on display in the Lilly Library Slocum Room located at 1200 East Seventh Street in Bloomington. The exhibit contains examples of each of the ten mechanical puzzle categories in Slocum’s category system. As a companion to the exhibit, there are also hands-on puzzles for visitors to the Slocum Room to solve while viewing the exhibit. In this way, visitors can see the types of puzzles and they can try similar puzzles.

When visiting the Slocum Room to see the permanent exhibit, or to try the hands-on puzzles, it is best to check the availability of the room. This room also functions as a classroom space, which means that it might be reserved on occasion. The library is open on Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Reading Room is open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

If you would like to visit the Slocum Room or see a particular puzzle, please contact Andrew Rhoda, curator of puzzles, with questions about the collection and for information about scheduling tours or group presentations.

Preserving Indiana’s memories for the future

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Sam Meister, program manager for the MetaArchive Cooperative, sent out the call to six member organizations1 to trigger the ingest of four archival units (AUs) prepared by the cooperative’s newest member, Indiana Digital Preservation (InDiPres). Within minutes, the systems administrators managing the specified local servers within the LOCKSS-based distributed preservation network began to respond in the affirmative, “AUs added at … .”

This action culminated 18 months of preparatory work undertaken by the Indiana State Library (ISL) and the Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University to create a sustainable digital preservation solution for Indiana’s cultural memory organizations, especially those of modest size and resources. Using Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, the libraries established a fee-based collaborative group for the sole purpose of joining the MetaArchive Cooperative, a community-owned and governed distributed digital preservation network founded in 2004. As a collaborative member of the MetaArchive Cooperative, Indiana Digital Preservation provides InDiPres participants the means to securely store master digital files in multiple copies at geographically dispersed sites in the United States and Europe for an affordable price. Start-up costs, which includes a three-year MetaArchive collaborative membership and the purchase of the LOCKSS server housed at Indiana State University, were covered by monies received through the 2015-2016 LSTA Special Digitization Project Grant.

From left to right: Connie Rendfeld (ISL), Cathi Taylor (American Legion Auxiliary), Eric Spall (Lebanon Public Library), Ryan Weir (Rose Hulman), Brooke Cox (DePauw) and Cinda May (Indiana State) at the InDiPres Foundational Meeting on May 17, 2016 at the Indiana State Library.

By working together, Indiana’s heritage organizations are able to store multiple copies of master files throughout a global network that monitors the integrity of the files to ensure the survivability of digital content into the future. Members of Indiana Digital Preservation share in the expense of long term storage and preservation of digital assets created by these institutions; particularly those that contribute to Indiana Memory. Based on a model of 20 members, the InDiPres membership fee is $325 per year with a three-year commitment, plus $.59 per GB of storage space based on individual needs. The $325 breaks down to a required $100 participation fee, $125 for a member’s share of the MetaArchive Collaborative membership which costs $2,500 per year and $100 for a share of the InDiPres LOCKSS server at three-year refreshment cycle. These costs are likely to be reduced as more organizations join the endeavor. Membership in InDiPres is open to any Indiana institution creating digital content whose principles and guidelines are consistent with those of Indiana Digital Preservation. This includes, but is not limited to libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, community groups, research centers and state and local government agencies.

The 2016-2017 LSTA Special Digitization Project Grant included funding to hire a metadata specialist to work with InDiPres partners to perform necessary data wrangling tasks and preparation for the ingest of content into the MetaArchive Preservation Network. To date more than 656 GB of digital files created by InDiPres members are stored within the network.

Indiana Digital Preservation will celebrate its first anniversary at a meeting of its membership on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. This meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at the Indiana State Library from 1-4 p.m. For more information about how to join InDiPres please contact Connie Rendfeld via email or at (317) 232-3694.

This blog post was written by Cinda May, chair, Special Collections, Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University.

1. MetaArchive Cooperative members storing InDiPres submitted content are: HBCU Library Alliance, Consorci de Biblioteques Universitaries de Catalunya; and the libraries of the University of North Texas, Oregon State University, Purdue University, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Proposed Friends of the Riley Library group seeks members

My name is Dena Vincent and I’ve been the librarian at the Edward A. Block Family Library at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health for over 14 years. I received my Masters in Library Science in 2003 from Indiana University.

The children’s library at Riley Hospital got its start in the early 20th century. At the 1923 meeting of the Indiana Library Association, currently known as the Indiana Library Federation after a 1990 merger with the Indiana Library Trustees Association, members of the association pledged their support for the children’s library at Riley Memorial Hospital, today’s Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.1

I am seeking people who would be interested in starting and running a Friends of the Riley Library group. The focus of the group will be to support volunteer efforts for the library and to raise funds for the library to purchase and pay for magazine subscriptions, collection updates, supplies and, ultimately, to help fund library staff. The overall goal would be to generate the necessary funds to create and support an endowment for the library and its programs and services. The proposed friends of the library group would work closely with me and with the Riley Children’s Foundation to augment the support currently provided.

Due to increasing costs and a reduction in reimbursements, many cuts have been made in departmental budgets in the last few years. Therefore, non-revenue producing departments, like the library, will ultimately be funded by the Riley Children’s foundation.

The Edward A. Block Family Library is a library for patients and families. The library is similar to a small public library offering books for all ages, movies, video games, music CDs, magazines, phone charging, computers and printing/faxing/copying. Other services include Riley Reading Time on CCTV, dial-a-story and volunteers reading to patients and delivering book carts to their rooms.

Patients and families are welcome to come to the library, however, 35 percent of our patients are in isolation and another 25 percent are in the NICU.2 If a parent is not there to provide some distraction then these children may not have any type of distraction other than nurses or doctors. The Cheer Guild provides toys and crafts for the children, but as you can imagine children need other resources, especially reading.

The library at Riley got its start with the help of Indiana librarians and with your continued support we can provide a library to patients and families well into the future.

If you would like to be a member of the Friends of the Riley Library, call me at (317) 944-1149 or email me.

If you would like to volunteer, you may fill out an application here.

If you would like to donate monies/materials, or learn more about the library, please visit our website.

1Spencer, Rhonda, and Dina Kellams. “In Conclusion: Highlighting the Indiana Library Association-1923 Meeting at the West Baden Springs Hotel.” Indiana Libraries 31.2 (2012) 56. Abstract. Library Occurrent 6.12 (1923): 427-28. Print.

2 Riley Hospital. Riley Hospital Daily Brief. Rep. N.p.: n.p., 2016. Print. November & December.

This blog post was written by Dena Vincent, librarian, Edward A. Block Family Library at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

Lake County Public Library direct mail to non-card holders case study

Today we welcome guest blogger Jennifer Burnison of the Lake County Public Library

In the fall of 2016, the Lake County Public Library (LCPL) wanted to reach out to community members who did not have a library card. We believed if we promoted our digital library services to the 25-39 year old community, we would see more individuals in this age range sign up for a library card and then proceed to use the library’s digital resources. This age range is defined by young professionals and young parents who feel they do not have time to use traditional library services, but we believed they would be eager to use our digital library. LCPL wanted to send postcards to this group promoting the digital library, along with instructions on how to sign up for a library card remotely, but we weren’t sure how to identify individuals in this age range who did not have a library card.

We overcame this issue by using Patronlink, a powerful library marketing, analytics and outreach tool that allows libraries to analyze and communicate with patrons and non-patrons alike. LCPL was able to upload and flag their current patrons’ records in Patronlink’s database of over 270 million individuals. Using the filter tools, we narrowed the file down to our service area and selected individuals who were 25-39 years old. Finally, we omitted current patrons from the list, giving us a list of all the 25-39 year-olds in our service area who did not have library cards.

Lake County Public Library

Taking it one step further, we wondered if the income levels of these individuals affected their desire to use digital services. We knew our service area covered two zip codes with similar populations, but with divergent income levels. LCPL decided to only send postcards to the individuals aged 25-39 in these two zip codes and look at the key performance indicator (KPI) to see which sample had more individuals sign up for library cards.

The postcards were printed in-house and were mailed out at the end of September 2016. Around 3,000 postcards were mailed out using the post office’s bulk mail rate of $0.175 per postcard, for a total of approximately $525. Statistics were then gathered at the beginning of November 2016.

LCPL postcard sample

LCPL proactively flagged the records of individuals who received a postcard, so when we re-uploaded our patron list we would be able to quickly identify the individuals who had both a “sent post card” flag and a patron flag. After analyzing the results, we determined 1.8 percent of households who received a postcard signed up for a library card, while some households had multiple people sign up for cards. We consider this a successful direct mail campaign, as a response rate of two percent is expected for these types of mailings. As for differing income levels, there was no statistical difference in the number of library card sign-ups in relation to income levels; everyone enjoys low-cost or no-cost options.

For more information about the LCPL’s case study, contact Robin Johnsen, the library’s technology marketing specialist at rjohnsen@lcplin.org.

Jennifer Burnison is the marketing manager for the Lake County Public Library. For more information about the Lake County Public Library, contact Jennifer at jburnison@lcplin.org.

Video game collections in your library

Today we welcome guest blogger Eric Fisher of the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

After doing a presentation at the Indiana Library Federation (ILF) conference this this year, I thought I’d try to answer many common questions and considerations that a collection developer might face when considering circulating video games.

First, the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library does not circulate consoles. Your average console will run you anywhere from $200 to $450, or so, and consoles do not operate like they did several years ago. They are now essentially computers with proprietary operating systems. They usually require games to be installed off of the disk and often have game patches that need to be downloaded. They are also usually tied to an individual’s game account (e.g. a PlayStation Network account or an Xbox Live account). Therefore, the console itself usually contains some level of personally identifiable user information. It would be a bit like circulating laptops to people to take home for days at a time and allowing them to be able to install software on them at their own discretion. This is not to say that you couldn’t circulate game systems, we just feel that the cost and other challenges/logistics make it more trouble than it’s worth. Just last week, however, we did purchase a PlayStation 4 (PS4) and an Xbox One S for use in the library and for programming; a practical option for us.

Video game collection at the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

Second, we currently purchase primarily for PS4 and Xbox One, with the increasingly rare purchase of a PlayStation 3 (PS3) or an Xbox 360 title. The reason for this is that both the PS4 and Xbox One were released in November 2013, which means that PS3 and Xbox 360 systems are at the very end of their lifecycles and are getting very few new title releases now. The Nintendo Wii was replaced by the Wii U in December 2012 and the Wii U was extremely commercially disappointing with abysmal adoption rates. In fact, Nintendo is releasing their successor console, Switch, in March of 2017 partly because the Wii U was such a failure. All that being said, our collection contains PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii and a small handful of Wii U games. The games for the older systems do still circulate, so we’re not in a hurry to weed them out, but at the same time I’m interested in putting funds toward current generation games as opposed to previous generation games, especially since backward compatibility is non-existent or limited. For example, PS4 will not play PS3 games and Xbox One can only play a number of Xbox 360 titles. However, the Wii U will play Wii titles. We do not currently purchase for the Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita handhelds, as their media formats are small cards, not unlike SD cards, which makes them a bit more difficult to secure. The systems we do collect for use disk-based media, so they’re very easy to secure using standard lockable cases; the type we use for DVDs. You could collect for handheld systems depending on how you plan the logistics. Some libraries do circulate handheld systems and their accompanying media.

Video game collection at the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

Third, we collect games of all ratings. Some libraries, for example, opt not to collect games rated M (mature), which I feel is based on the misconception that “video games are for kids.” According to the 2016 Entertainment Software Association report on sales, around 75 percent of gamers are over the age of 18, with the average age of gamers being 35. An ESRB M rating is akin to the MPAA’s R rating for movies. The ESRB also has the AO (adults only) rating category, which is akin to an MPAA NC-17 rating, but just like the movie rating, you really never see any games that come out with an AO rating. Since their inception in 1994, ESRB has rated about 30 games as AO and all have been released on computer, not consoles. The report also notes that female gamers make up 41 percent of the game playing community, so it truly is a medium that is consumed by all public age and gender demographics. Our collection practices try to reflect the demographic makeup of the gaming community.

Video game collection at the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library

Finally, your collection decisions regarding title purchases and the number of formats you’ll support will rely heavily on your gaming collection budget. Games typically retail at $59.99 on release, and depending on popularity, will start to drop significantly in price over their first six months, usually settling around the $20 to $30 price point. PS4 currently dominates the console market in regards to number of titles released and number of consumers who have purchased a console, though Xbox One is a close second. Each brand has their own exclusives (e.g. Mario and Pokemon games for Nintendo) as well as versions of multi-platform titles (e.g. “Call of Duty”). I try to purchase very well-known titles/franchises at launch while waiting for less anticipated titles until the price drops a bit. It’s not unusual for the console companies to release around four “must have” titles in any given month. Some times of the year see heavier launch lists, particularly during the fourth quarter holidays. I will generally purchase those titles at launch. Additionally, many games are offered in “special editions,” as well as a “standard edition.” Most of the extra game content released exclusively in a special edition is in the form of a redeemable one use code. So, for circulation purposes, it’s usually best to purchase the standard edition. Bonus content tends to be digital downloads in the form of a code tied to the user’s game account, so it can be safely ignored. Efficient collection development of games generally requires a decent level of familiarity with the gaming landscape and the big franchises, so collections usually benefit from frequent game journalism research. That being said, big titles are often announced far in advance of release, so it’s possible to build a wish list well ahead of time and tweak it as release dates change or as previously un-hyped, but worthwhile, titles are released.

I think this post should give you a good foundation for starting a video game collection in your library. Video games have been an extremely popular collection for us. We service a community of about 8,000 people and typically our monthly game circulation is about 600. We let patrons check out up to three games at a time with a one week loan period and we allow one renewal. My budget for 2016 was about $6,000 and will be about $7,500 for 2017. You can view the documents relating to my ILF presentation here and let me know if I can answer any questions. Good luck!

Eric Fisher is the assistant director of the Alexandria-Monroe Public Library. For more information on video games in your library, contact Eric at efisher@alexlibrary.net.