New Additions to our Northwest Photograph Collection

We’ve just wrapped up the addition of more than 800 historic images to our Northwest Photograph Collection thanks to grant funding from Washington State Library and Institute of Museum and Library Services. The collection now includes over 1300 photographs from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska.

The newly added photos include views of :

Group in regalia at Lummi Stommish Water Festival, 1949
  • The 1949 Lummi Stommish Water Festival. The celebration started near Bellingham in 1946 with activities including canoe races, salmon bakes, dancing and the selection of a festival princess.
Gov. Ernest Lister and admirals at Bremerton dry dock, 1913
  • Governor Ernest Lister and his family. Lister served as governor of Washington from 1913 to 1919, leading the state through the influenza epidemic and World War I. Lister died of heart disease while in office in 1919, shortly after many of these photos were taken.

Continue reading “New Additions to our Northwest Photograph Collection”

Accessibility Apps for Library Users

Accessibility in apps has become more and more prevalent in tech development. Large developers, such as Microsoft, have received feedback from users underlining the needs that communities with disabilities have seen as necessary in order to successfully use mobile devices, computer programs, applications, and gaming.

Thankfully, this communication has resulted in a higher industry standard when it comes to creating products that everyone can use regardless of ability.

This is reflected at the Seattle Public Library as many of our online resources have sections devoted to accessibility on their websites or FAQs:

In addition, there are many small developers releasing and improving upon apps for mobile devices that are directly created to make life more convenient and stress-free for disabled communities using these devices.

In LEAP (Library Equal Access Program), we promote and use many of these apps daily to better serve the populations that come to us with needs. It’s our hope that we can see these applications used more widely at the Seattle Public Library in our day to day interactions with disabled patrons.

Here are a few that merit the most attention and all apps are free unless otherwise noted:

1. Seeing AI (IOS) – Described as a “Swiss army knife app” by one user, Seeing AI allows blind and low vision individuals to use their phone or tablet camera to interact with the world. Seeing AI acts as an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tool, reading documents (both printed and handwritten), labels on products, and currency. It also can be used to describe scenes around you, artwork and color, and people’s facial expressions.

Unfortunately, Seeing AI is only available on IOS devices. A similar app available for Android users is Lookout; or Sullivan+ available on IOS and Android devices.

2. weZoom (Android) – A digital magnifier, weZoom has the same capabilities as the CCTV magnifiers at the library, with the added benefit of being able to use it wherever you go. weZoom magnifies text up to 8x with your phone camera, and can be used in conjunction with your phone flashlight. Color filter modes are included; black-white, white-black, black-yellow, blue-white, and blue-yellow.

3. Ava (IOS and Android) – Ava is a live captioning transcription app that can be used in almost any setting. While Ava does have a paid platform for businesses and organizations, it is free for occasional users. The free version supports up to 40 minute sessions of group or individual transcription for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

4. Google Maps (IOS and Android) – This may be a surprising addition. We looked at many different apps designed specifically for people with physical disabilities. Many of these apps; such as WheelMate, WheelMap, iAccess Life, and fuelService; while useful, do not have the all-encompassing features provided by Google Maps. Nor do they have the popular visibility of an app pre-loaded on many devices. With the relatively new “Accessible Places” setting, introduced in May 2020, users have the ability to look up accessible locations and leave reviews on a large platform. While it is unfortunate that this setting has to be turned on in order to provide accessibility information, when it is turned on, it shows accessibility information as well as reviews for most businesses, transit stops, restrooms, parks, and pretty much any other place of interest worldwide.

5. Voice: OCR Document Reader (IOS) – This app comes highly recommended by a LEAP patron. Voice: OCR is an optical character recognition (OCR) app that allows users to point their phone camera at text or handwriting and say “Capture”, Voice: OCR will take a picture of the text. Once the picture is taken, you can say “Read” and the app will convert the text, while it is converting the text a tune plays and will stop once the text is converted and begin reading the text for you. You are also able to download documents or PDFs to the app in order to have Voice: OCR convert that text as well. It is free for the first 20 scans per month; if a person chooses, they can pay a subscription fee of $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

This short list definitely does not exhaust the amount of apps designed for and used by people with disabilities. In my research, I downloaded many more that are free and useful. Included here are those I felt were most useful for our patrons at the Seattle Public Library.

If you have any questions or need help you can contact LEAP via email or call 206-615-1380 (V/TTY).

~posted by Seth T.

Catalog magic: finding new authors via additional contributors

At the library, we are always excited to help you find new authors to explore, although our current ability to hang out and talk books is limited by pandemic closures. Fortunately, our catalog has some neat ways to help you slide from one author you like to another, and today I’d like to highlight the way “additional contributors” can factor in.

First of all – what is an additional contributor? This is someone else, other than the author, who contributed to the creation of a book – often, the additional contributor field is used to indicate the reader of an audiobook; or the translator on a book that has been translated into English. The additional contributor is named in an informational field in the catalog record.

An audiobook narrator may narrate many different styles of book – mysteries, fiction, nonfiction. Likewise a translator will work in one or two languages, but otherwise may translate a variety of materials. Still, narrators and translators are lending their voice and their style to these works, so if you like the interpretation and voice of a certain reader, or the prose style of a particular translator, you may also like that person’s work elsewhere. It’s worth a try! Continue reading “Catalog magic: finding new authors via additional contributors”

New Year Resolutions: Exercise in the Time of Covid

Coming to you from the cyberpunk dystopia that will not end, a series of New Year’s Resolution-themed posts, because the only way out is through.

My fellow apocalypse-sters, you and I both know the importance of exercise. It keeps your meat sack in working condition, helps you sleep better, gives you energy, and can even boost your mood, which we all need these days, so desperately.

Remember when we used to go walking at the mall with friends? Or logging an hour on the elliptical at Planet Fitness? When we could learn Tai Chi in the park? Or maybe you’re like me and never did any of that?? Because exercise is hard to make yourself do under the best of circumstances and these are not even mildly okay circumstances. I don’t know about you, but my body is trying to become one with my couch these days, so I’m willing to try something.

If you, like myself, have hit rock bottom fitness-wise, you’ll be glad to know that SPL has a lot of online exercise videos through Kanopy, Hoopla, and the lesser known Access Video. Exercise videos are great – you just follow whatever the people on your screen are doing until you collapse into a sweaty heap, zero brain work involved. You can do Pilates Essentials, Bollywood Burn, or Dance and Be Fit. Find out what Jeanette is blasting next, may her body rest in pieces. You could even transform your entire actual life with yoga, according to Dashama Konah Gordon. This last one isn’t exactly an exercise video, but I couldn’t sleep at night unless I shared this Super Swordfighting Series for how to do cool movie sword fights. I think that would transform my life. Continue reading “New Year Resolutions: Exercise in the Time of Covid”

Read Magazines for Free with Flipster

One of the downsides to grocery delivery, if you’re a magazine reader, is lack of access to impulse-buy reading material in the checkout line.  Those cover recipes on cooking magazines are a great way to get inspired in the kitchen. Celebrity gossip is an effective distraction on a rough day and can be a good conversation starter.

Don’t worry, you can fill this void through The Seattle Public Library with free, digital magazine access!

Introducing: FLIPSTER

This digital periodical collection offers access to 60 very popular magazines, always available, no need to place holds. Subjects include cooking, sports, politics, entertainment, history, science, health and more. Issues are always available and can be read on any web browser, or by downloading an app to your Android phone, iPhone, or Kindle Fire. Newsweek magazine is available in Spanish and English, and People en Español is also available!

To get started: Continue reading “Read Magazines for Free with Flipster”