From the Director’s Pocket: April 2015

From the Director’s Pocket is a new series from – you guessed it! – our director, Steven K. Butzel. He’ll be sharing interesting links and stories with us each month. In March, he covered hacking, mindfulness, and a clean water project in Kenya.


1) Passover and Haggadot.com

My family recently celebrated Passover, and I was responsible for leading this year’s seder. This meant picking out a haggadah, and so, for kicks, I explored some options online. That’s when I discovered Haggadot.com, a simple platform that allows you to create a custom Passover seder using unique content, including readings, artwork and video clips, contributed by a broad community. I downloaded and used their Liberal Haggadah as well as an insert on “10 Plagues of Domestic Poverty” contributed by Avodah, a Jewish service corps. It was a big hit with everyone on a number of meaningful levels, so I highly recommend the site.

Illustration-haggadah-exodus

Some other available themed haggadahs include:

2) 3D Printing – New Filaments

As you may know, the library owns a 3D printer made by Makerbot, and we’re holding weekly demonstrations, usually in the lobby. In fact, using a link on our 3D Printing page, you can even submit a design for us to print out for you!

As we look toward the future, “the next big thing in consumer level 3D printing may not be the hardware itself, but rather the materials that these machines can print with.” (Source) At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, MakerBot debuted four new filaments which are expected to come to market this year. They refer to them as PLA+. PLA+ is a range of filaments that are PLA composites, featuring many quite interesting materials. The four new materials which will be released in 2015 include:

  • Lime PLA+
  • Maple Wood PLA+
  • Bronze PLA+
  • Iron PLA+

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How cool is that!! I can’t wait to learn more so we can determine whether to purchase some of these new filaments. Stay tuned!

3) EdX Coding Courses: New Coding Skills Just A Click Away

The library is considering starting a coding community this fall, (something called a CoderDojo, in fact) so I’ve always got an eye out for free or affordable coding instruction and related resources. Here are a couple of free online courses that I came across on the website EdX.org. Both sound intriguing to me!

Introduction to Java Programming – Part 1. Learn the fundamental elements of Java programming and data abstraction.

Learn HTML5 from W3C. Learn HTML5 and core Web technologies directly from the organization creating them! Learn to code Web pages and Web sites the right way.

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If you’d be interested in joining a community of coders at the library, including learners, instructors and organizers, please send me an email so I can add you to future communications on this topic.

That’s it for this month. Stay tuned for my next installment in May!


SteveFrom the Director’s Pocket is a blog series curated by Steve Butzel, Portsmouth Public Library director, dog lover, Phish (the band) aficionado, nonfiction reader, and natural resource, sustainable energy and international affairs enthusiast. If you have suggestions for something that should be included in a future blog post, email him at skbutzel@cityofportsmouth.com.

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