Making a Larger Whole

Connected Courses begins next week and I have been checking out a few of the blogs to see what others have to say.  I’m impressed (and intimidated).  It looks exciting so I am jumping in.  Although I work in higher education I am not directly involved in teaching; however, whatever I can learn about enhancing the learning experience has got to be beneficial.  After spending a good portion of the last year evaluating Learning Management Systems (LMSs) I want to see everything that these systems are not.

Despite already having plans for a wide range of projects this semester, Connected Courses looks like it needs to be part of the plan.  To paraphase Hunter S. Thompson:

[Learning] should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Fine Art: Finding Images

Recently several major art museums have announced that they are making their digital collections available for download and non-commercial use.  This opening up of collections gives students and anyone interested in fine art an opportunity to work with and use these images in their own projects.  The following museums and galleries have collections that have recently announced that their images in their collections are available for download .

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Portrait of George Moore

George Moore (1852-1933) by Edouard Manet H.O. Havermeyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On May 16, 2014 the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that 400,000 high resolution digital images of public domain works could be downloaded from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use.  You do not need to seek permission for use of these images nor is there an associated fee.  This initiative is called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) and works covered by this initiative are identified by the acronym OASC. More information is available on the Met’s  Frequently Asked Questions page.

Search the Met’s Collection.

National Gallery of Art, Washington

Key West, Hauling Anchor, 1903 by Winslow Homer, National Gallery of Art.

Key West, Hauling Anchor, 1903 by Winslow Homer, National Gallery of Art.

NGA Images is a repository of digital images from the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.  More than 37,000 open access digital images are available free of charge for download and use.  Images are available at different resolutions for use on screen or in print publications.  Search NGA Images on the National Gallery’s website.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Detail from The Little Street, Johannes Vermeer, RIjksmuseum

Detail from The Little Street, Johannes Vermeer, RIjksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam makes over 125,000 images from the collection available, free of charge.   To use them you will need to create a free Rijkstudio account to get started.

The account lets you create your own galleries and download images for your own use.  The museum encourages you to create your own masterpieces from the images that you download and has examples of objects, images and videos created from its art works.



The Getty

Unknown Horse and Rider, about 550 B.C., Terracotta Object: H: 12.7 cm (5 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California

Unknown. Horse and Rider, about 550 B.C., Terracotta Object: H: 12.7 cm (5 in.)
DIgital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


The Getty makes freely available all digital images (about 90,000) to which it holds the rights or that are in the public domain.  You can browse all Open Content images or use the search on the Getty Search Gateway and download images identified with a download link.  Images used should be credited as follows:  “Digital Image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program”

Finding More Images

These are just a few examples of places where you can find fine art images to use in your projects.  Check the Finding Images to Share post for more resources for finding images.

The Web in Your Pocket: Distributing Digital Resources using LibraryBox

Image of Poster Presentation

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike License

At the recent Ryerson University Faculty Conference I presented this poster to familiarize faculty members with LibraryBox and how it might be used in their teaching and research.  At the poster venue I had a LibraryBox for testing and had a good stream of visitors from a wide range of departments in the University – Nursing, Engineering, New Media, Sociology and Architecture.  The poster gave some background, simplified how to build instructions, some use cases, features and benefits, a map with some highlighted LibraryBox locations and some sample screenshots.  It will be interesting to see if I hear back from any of the faculty members that dropped by.

Customizing your LibraryBox v2.0 Beta

Screenshot of LibraryboxRecently I created a LibraryBox v2.0 Beta and have been spending some time customizing the look and feel of the default installation to reflect how I would like to use it and to prepare it for a couple of upcoming poster presentations. Here are a few notes on what I have discovered so far that may be helpful if you are trying to do some customization.  For more detailed information and discussion about LibraryBox 2.0 that goes way beyond look and feel, check out the LibraryBox Google Group and the Advanced Setup page on the LibraryBox site.

Files and Directories

The default installation of LibraryBox v2.0 comes with a suite of files that work out of the box.  These can be found in the LibraryBox directory on your USB stick.  Many of these files can be customized to make your LibraryBox unique. The files that govern how content is displayed can be found in the Content and Shared directories below the LibraryBox directory.  Before editing them, it is a good idea to make a back-up copy of the entire contents of the LibraryBox directory and save it to your computer.  If anything goes badly wrong when editing, you will be able to restore the original version.

Content Directory

The content directory contains several files and folders as follows:

librarybox_faviconFavicon.ico is the small 16 x 16 pixel icon that appears in the browser address bar when a user is connected to one of your LibraryBox pages.  You can create your own favicon if you wish by using a favicon generator such as:

Gpl-2.0.txt file contains the text of the GNU public license.

HTML Files

The Content directory contains several static HTML files as follows:

Home Page –  index.html
Statistics Page – stats.html
About Page – about.html

php files

dl_statistics.html.php and vc_statistics.html.php are used to track downloads and visitor counts which are reported on the home and stats pages.

STL files

These files can be used to 3D print a container for your LibraryBox.

css Directory

Contains css files used by LibraryBox pages:


The css directory contains style sheet files that govern the look and feel of your LibraryBox pages. Several of these css files come with the Bootstrap framework, a collection of tools that was used to create the LibraryBox website.  The font.css file makes use of the font files that are in the Content/fonts directory.

If you would like to change how content is displayed on your LibraryBox and use some of your own styles, it is advisable to create a separate stylesheet and put your additions and changes in that file rather than edit the default files.

dir-images Directory

This directory contains several small icon images that can be used to provide a visual cue to alert users about what type of file they can expect to download.

fonts Directory

This directory contains custom fonts for LibraryBox.

img Directory

lbx-logo-small-white      lbx-logo-small    menu-icon

This directory contains 3 small icon files.  Two of them are small LibraryBox logos and the other is the hamburger menu-icon used in the top right of the web pages.

Js Directory

The js directory contains javascript files.

Shared Directory

User-supplied downloadable files should be placed in the appropriate sub-directories under the Shared directory.  In the default installation the following sub-directories have already been set-up and are linked from the dropdown (hamburger menu) at the top right of the home page:

  • audio
  • software
  • text
  • video

These directories do not contain any files.  You can delete any that you do not plan to use (and remove the corresponding entry from the drop-down menu) and add directories for other types of content – data, images, etc.

For each directory that you wish to keep, you should have an index.html file that is the access page for the content in that directory.

Editing HTML Files

You can edit the HTML files by inserting the USB key into your computer and using your favourite editing software.  If you use this option you will need to move the USB key between your LibraryBox and computer to make and check edits.  If you have activated the ftp option for your LibraryBox, you may prefer to use an FTP client to download files, edit them and then ftp them back to the live LibraryBox.

Note about the name of the Content directory:  I found that although the name of this directory starts with an uppercase C, I could only get urls to work consistently by using a lowercase c.

Statistics for downloadable files

If you would like to maintain statistics for downloads from your LibraryBox, you will need to create the links to these files in a particular way.  All your urls should be prefaced with: http://librarybox.lan/dl_statistics_counter.php?DL_URL=/

Eg. http://librarybox.lan/dl_statistics_counter.php?DL_URL=/Shared/text/books/stoker_dracula.epub



Building a LibraryBox V2.0

TP-Link Portable RouterLast year, as part of a study leave, I built a LibraryBox using the instructions on Jason Griffey’s LibraryBox website.  I thought that I’d use it at the Ontario Library Association conference (which has very limited free WiFi) to allow attendees to download the slides for a presentation that I was making at the conference.  Unfortunately this did not work as planned as the conference venue seemed to block “rogue” wireless servers.  I could get the LibraryBox to function in the adjoining conference hotel, but not in the main conference space.  Apart from that outing and taking the LibraryBox to a makerspace symposium, my LibraryBox hasn’t been seeing much action.  To remedy this, I will be presenting a poster about LibraryBox at the Ryerson University Faculty Conference in May.  For the conference I’d like to demo V2.0 of LibraryBox, so it’s time for an upgrade.

Screenshot of LibraryboxActually I didn’t want to compromise my fully functional original LibraryBox, so I purchased a new TP-Link wireless router to make a brand new LibraryBox.  The creation of the 2.0 version was much smoother and simpler than version 1.5.  If you are thinking of creating a LibraryBox, v2.0 is definitely the way to go.

Now to load some content, do a bit more customization and to figure out why the download statistics don’t work properly.

Embedding Getty Images

Getty Images announced yesterday that they would be making a large number of their images available for use free of charge as long as they are posted with Getty’s new embed feature.  Using this feature allows you to embed non-watermarked pictures in your web pages and blog posts and provides attribution details and a link back to more information about the image on Getty’s website.

An image that you can embed will have a little getty_embed icon that appears when you hover over the image.  If you click the icon you will get html coding that can be copied and added to your blog post or web page.

For more information, check out Getty’s FAQ on embedding images.  By embedding these images you are agreeing to Getty Images terms of use.

Libraries and ebook Creation

Libraries and ebook CreationToday I presented at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference on the topic of Libraries and ebook Creation.  The slides and notes (including a list of resources mentioned)  are available  as a Powerpoint file.  The list of ebooks projects and creation tools (pdf) is also available as a separate file.