Print to the Library’s HP printers from your smartphone or tablet!

The Library recently responded to the increased use of web-enabled smartphones and tablet computers on campus by re-designing our website to optimize the viewing and use experience of our students and faculty. This is an exciting development, of which we are very proud.

The increased use of mobile devices on campus and in the Library has also resulted in requests from students such as: “I want to print a document from my iPad, but I can’t find the printer on the network. How do I go about doing this?”

Printing from a mobile device differs from printing from a laptop or desktop computer because there is no way to install printer drivers into the operating system on your mobile device. Printing has to be enabled through a separate mobile application (app) that you download and install onto your device. There are many printing apps available for various mobile operating systems (e.g., Apple’s iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.). Some are paid, but many are free (more on this below). The app will typically support a list of compatible printers. You first configure the app to communicate with a compatible printer that is discoverable on your network via wi-fi from your device. You then link the app to an email account (to which you send documents you want to print as email attachments), or a web-accessed cloud storage service (e.g., Dropbox).

Because we use HP printers in the Library, I am going to tell you about a free printing app from HP that works remarkably well. I will walk you through the installation and printing process using an Apple iPod touch as my demonstration device (the steps may differ slightly on an Android or Blackberry device).

Step 1: Get the Free HP ePrint App

Go to HP’s Mobile Apps page and look for the HP ePrint app for your device’s operating system. For convenience, I have included links to the HP ePrint app download and use pages on HP’s site (right-click on the app icon to open in a new window or tab). Since I am demonstrating this process on my iPod touch, I searched for “HP ePrint” in the iTunes App Store on my device, and downloaded it directly.

Step 2: Launch the HP ePrint App

Once the app is installed on your device launch it. The first time you launch the app you will see a series of help screens. You can dismiss these if you’d like. The app home screen looks like this screenshot on my iPod. Notice the “No printer found: Tap here to select a print” message. Notice also the “Activate” button. It doesn’t matter which action you do first. However, you must be connected to the wireless network before you attempt either action.

Step 3: Locate and Add a Printer

I have chosen to find a printer first by tapping “select a printer.” Here is a screenshot showing a list of available and compatible HP printers on the Milligan College wireless network. Notice that available printers have a green light. If the printer is not available the light will be grayed-out. (Remember, this app only works with compatible HP printers. It will not support printers manufactured by other companies.)

Selecting a printer from this list is a little tricky. First, make sure you are viewing the list of printers under the “All” tab. The HP printers in the Library are LaserJet 4250s, and there is one on each floor. The app has identified several printers of this model. However, it doesn’t tell you where the printer is located. It only provides a printer code in [square brackets]. Further, on my iPod screen I can’t even see the entire code. However, once you know which printer is which it is fairly easy to select the right one because the codes are unique. Here is the list currently (Note: if/when any of these printers are replaced these codes will likely change. We will update information at that time):

  • Library First Floor is [D9E82C]
  • Library Second Floor is [DCD99E]
  • Library Basement Floor is [5E8812]

You can add one or all of these printers from the list. However, you can only add printers one at a time, and you have to have actually printed (Step 5) from each printer at least once before it is added to your “Preferred” list. To see all printers you have printed to tap on the “Preferred” tab. In the “Preferred” list the currently active printer is highlighted in blue. Change the printer you want by tapping on it.

For this demonstration I have selected the Library Basement printer [5E8812] by tapping on it. Once selected, the app returns to the home screen. Notice the light is green. But I cannot print to it until I Activate my ePrint account.

Step 4: Activate Your ePrint Account 

Tap the blue “Activate” button. This will take you to a screen (right) where you will enter an email address. Enter an email address you routinely use and tap the “Activate” button. The ePrint app will move to another screen where you will enter an activation code. The HP ePrint Center will send this activation code to the email address you entered in the previous screen. Check your email for a message from hpeprint.com with the subject line “ePrint mobile registration.” Open this email and enter the 4 character PIN code provided in this email. You have successfully activated your HP ePrint app!

Step 5: Printing from Your Mobile Device Using the HP ePrint App

When you return to the home screen you will notice three options listed below the selected printer: Photos, Web, and Email. For routine printing in the Library you will select either Web or Email. The Web option is for printing documents you have previously uploaded to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. The Email option is for printing documents you have previously attached to an email message. To print a document from a cloud service just browse to and login to that service from within the HP ePrint app (see Step 7). To print a document that you attached to an email message you will need to log into your email account from within the HP ePrint app (see Step 6).

Step 6: Printing a Document in HP ePrint Attached to an Email Message

The screenshot at left shows the HP ePrint home screen with the Library Basement printer selected. Notice the “Activate” button no longer displays. Tap Email. In order to print from an email you first need to login to an email account. The first time you select the Email option you will be presented with the screen (right) with several popular email service options, or select “Other.” This will take you to a screen where you fill-in email address and password, etc. You can add more than one account. Accounts will be remembered within HP ePrint.

Attach a document you want to print to an email message. HP ePrint supports Microsoft Office (Word), PDF, and text documents. Send this message to yourself. Launch the HP ePrint app, select your printer, and tap the Email icon. Select the email account you previously registered and browse to the message and open it. Notice the attachment at the bottom of the message. Tap on the attachment to open it. The document will open with a large “Print” button at the bottom. Tap “Print”. The screen will show a progress bar as the document is sent wirelessly to the printer. You will receive a “Success” screen when the document has been successfully printed. Tap “Done,” and retrieve the document from the printer.

  

Incidentally, you can also just print an email message without an attachment by opening the chosen email as before, and then tapping on the email preview to bring-up the “Print” dialog.

Step 7: Printing a Document in HP ePrint from a Cloud Storage Service

If you have an account with a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox, you can easily browse to the service from the built-in web browser in the HP ePrint app. From the app home screen, select your printer and tap the Web icon, type-in the URL to your cloud service and login. Browse to the folder where the document you want to print resides. Tap the document to launch it. Exactly as before, the document will open with a large “Print” button at the bottom. Tap “Print”. The screen will show a progress bar as the document is sent wirelessly to the printer. You will receive a “Success” screen when the document has been successfully printed. Tap “Done,” and retrieve the document from the printer.

  

This printer utility app adds remarkable functionality to your mobile device. It’s a great complement to the enhanced mobile experience we have provided with our mobile-ready website. We encourage you to give this app a try. Once you get used to using this app with the Library printers, you can use it on other compatible HP printers elsewhere on campus. Feel free to speak with a librarian if you need assistance.

Library website gets a ‘responsive’ new look

The P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library has released a design update to its website. The re-design features a crisp new look and improved navigation elements. But the most exciting new feature is the use of what is called “responsive website design.” With responsive web design a site automatically reformats (responds) for optimal viewing on a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen without significant loss of content. The screenshot to the left shows what the site looks like on an iPod touch (click the image to see an enlargement).

The newly designed site went live just after 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 6. The timing is significant. As library director Gary Daught notes, “I don’t know if this was entirely conscious, but it was exactly one year ago, on September 6, 2011, that we launched MCSearch, a remarkable tool that provides a compelling ‘Google-like’ search experience for our users. MCSearch makes the library’s high quality information resources as easy to access as any information search on the open web. Like MCSearch, the site re-design pushes the value of the library and its resources out to our users, whether you’re using a laptop computer, or a smartphone.”

As it happens, the product that drives MCSearch was also recently updated to support responsive display. Consequently, users can make productive use of MCSearch results from their tablet or smartphone.

The site re-design was a collaboration between Gary Daught and librarian assistant Jack Weinbender, with helpful feedback from other library staff. “Yes, we worked out the design elements together. But the coding–the magic that makes this site work–was all Jack’s doing. He did a wonderful job.”

MCSearch & Milligan College featured in EBSCO’s “Customer Success Story” marketing

By creating a strong library research platform with the speed and simplicity of a commercial Internet search engine, Milligan College makes its library holdings even more accessible to students and faculty.

Soon after Milligan College Library’s launch of MCSearch in early September 2011, we were contacted by the public relations folks at EBSCO Publishing to do a “Customer Success” story for their promotional/marketing materials.

MCSearch is our custom implementation/branding of EBSCO’s Discovery Service platform. MCSearch is best described as a search engine that provides a user experience not unlike Google, but its search capabilities focus on library-provided information resources instead of the open Web. In our own promotion, we have branded MCSearch with the tagline “One search box–for the good stuff” to underscore the ease of use search experience applied to accessing the quality information resources provided by the Library.

We recently learned that our story has been released. Here is a direct link to the five page piece (pdf) covering the launch. Links to the story appear in two locations on EBSCO’s website: On the EBSCO Customer Success Center (see  http://www.ebscohost.com/customerSuccess/ > Colleges/Universities > Customer Success Stories), and on the EDS Support Center (see http://support.ebsco.com/eds > the Customer Success Stories section on the home page. Our story is the third item.) It’s a nice read that features both the Library and Milligan College. Check it out!

E-books now better than ever: Easy access, clean interface, off-line reading (Part 1)

Back in April, Mary Jackson wrote about significant improvements coming to many of the library’s e-books as a result of EBSCO Publishing’s acquisition of NetLibrary from OCLC in early 2010. These improvements have arrived, and I think they were worth the wait.

Introducing EBSCOhost eBook Collection

The P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library has a substantial collection of over 68,000 e-book titles that migrated from NetLibrary into what is now called EBSCOhost eBook Collection. (The library has e-books from other publishers and vendors–Mary noted we have over 73,000 titles in total. But this is by far our largest collection.) Library users familiar with our EBSCOhost databases (e.g., ATLAS, CINAHL, Education Research Complete, Humanities International Complete, PsycINFO, SocINDEX, etc.) will instantly feel at home navigating this e-book collection, because it actually is another EBSCOhost database. The only difference (though no small difference) is that it searches and displays book content instead of journal article content.

It has been our observation that students tend to prefer using journal articles in research because the search tools connected with accessing articles–especially full-text articles–make this easier, more convenient, and more productive. I believe applying this same capability to books will encourage greater use of this information resource format in student research. (As an aside, students need to appreciate that books and articles are different information ‘animals.’ They serve different functions. It isn’t simply that books are long and articles are short. Rather, books lend themselves to broad and developed treatment of topics, whereas articles tend to be very narrowly focused on a particular aspect of a topic. Because of their format and mandate, articles often do not have the luxury of providing the reader with extensive background or context. Consequently, over-reliance on journal articles can actually hamper a student’s ability to properly understand the development of a topic, its history, or the range of issues at play.)

The “problem” with books isn’t that they’re in print–in fact, students appear to still appreciate and in many cases prefer the printed book format. The “problem” is that print books are not easily searchable (though tables of contents and indexes intend to help). The search tool most strongly associated with finding books is the library catalog. But the catalog doesn’t search the content of a book. The catalog only searches records that point to their associated books (or media). A book record typically includes such things as title, author(s)/editor(s), publication information, subject headings (a controlled system of describing what the book is about), and maybe a table of contents. But not the content itself. This is an inherent limitation of a library catalog (which originated to efficiently organize descriptions of physical, print books). It’s not the catalog’s fault, of course. And for what it is designed to do, a library catalog is still a pretty nifty and powerful tool.

When we enter the digital realm of electronic books where space isn’t an issue–where a catalog record, as it were, can contain not just a “shorthand” description of the book’s contents but literally the entire text of the book–it suddenly becomes possible for a book to be entirely searchable, eliminating the “problem” described above. This is the really powerful capability provided by having our e-books on a platform like EBSCOhost eBook Collection.

In Part 2, I will take you on a quick tour of our EBSCOhost eBook Collection to demonstrate searching, e-book display and navigation, expanded printing, and a new capability for off-line (including to some mobile device) reading.

Introducing MCSearch: One search box–for the good stuff

The P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library is pleased to introduce MCSearch to the Milligan College community. What is MCSearch? We think our tagline says it all: “One search box–for the good stuff.”

One search box. Students are familiar with Google and other popular web search engines. They like the ease and convenience of being able to type a few keywords into a search box and get tons of results. But how relevant, reliable, or current is this information for academic research purposes? This is a serious question. Students need to acquire skills for evaluating information accessed from the open web. (The Library provides instruction to students in information literacy skills like information resource evaluation.) However, given a choice between digging hard for the best available information resources or the convenience of a Google search, students are often satisfied with “good enough.”

What if there was a tool available that provided the ease and convenience of a Google search, but the information resources searched and results returned were those provided by the Library? Students could get to the stuff that was truly good instead of just good enough. This is exactly what MCSearch does.

The good stuff. Every year the Library spends tens of thousands of dollars to provide Milligan College students and faculty with high quality information resources to support their coursework and research. Books, media, print and electronic journals and magazines, e-books, subject-based print and electronic reference works (encyclopedias and dictionaries), and numerous subject-based and multidisciplinary databases for accessing journal articles online. We also provide an array of tools such as online library catalogs, journal finders, link resolvers, and database interfaces to help students and faculty search these resources. We make this investment because, frankly (and contrary to much conventional current day “wisdom”), you can’t get everything you need on the open web. Academic information resources are costly to produce, publish and distribute. Although there is a slowly growing open access movement in academic communication online, generally speaking, the good stuff isn’t free.

One search box, again. The “killer feature” that makes a search engine like Google so powerful and compelling is that a single query is applied simultaneously across a multitude of sites and resources on the World Wide Web. Can you imagine having to browse or search each site on the web individually to try to find information you were looking for? I’m showing my age here, but I first got online in 1994, almost 5 years before the Google search engine started attracting attention on the Web. I still remember when Yahoo! was literally just a running list of websites. But enough about that. My point is that search engines have profoundly altered the way we search for information. What if it were possible to apply some of this kind of power when searching the Library’s information resources–a single query applied simultaneously to the Library catalog and databases, rather than searching each of these sources individually? This is exactly what MCSearch does.

The emphasis is on discovery. As the Library evaluated the various print and electronic information resources it provides to students and faculty, it occurred to us that in many ways we have enough stuff. What we felt we needed was a way to make the stuff we have more discoverable. MCSearch is not about “dumbing down” the research process, or pandering to the bad study habits of lazy students. Using a search engine effectively still requires skill and discernment. But because MCSearch applies a search query across a range of Library resources and formats at once, it can bring to the surface information a student may not have otherwise discovered through conventional means. This brings a delightful element of serendipity to the research process.

Filter on the way out. Because general or broad keyword searches tend to return too many results that are not necessarily relevant, conventional catalog and database searching with limited features encourages the user to formulate precise search queries in advance to get the best results. MCSearch also allows the user to apply limiters to search queries in advance to narrow search results. However, a particularly powerful capability of MCSearch is the ability to filter results after the search is completed. MCSearch includes the ability to easily refine or “facet” results by various criteria (date, format, subject, provider, etc.). This capability removes the “problem” of too many results, while still providing the opportunity to discover valuable resources from unexpected sources.

Try it out now! We will be providing more usage assistance in subsequent posts and instruction sessions. But right now I would like to encourage you to just take some time to play around with MCSearch and get familiar with its capabilities. Feel free to contact us with any questions, and we especially welcome your feedback.