Thursday, May 11, 2017

Spot it! Gamification For The Win

Don't want to put a lot of money into a Makerspace for your Library or Classroom? Why not build a gaming tote?

Spot It!
In the picture at the very top you can see the games I got for my Daring School Library Media Center and the kiddos love it! This set would cost about $80 bucks without the tote.  The whole list is below, but featured is Spot It, hipster in my avatar hand at left, and Basic English for my ESOL (English as a Second Language) kiddos.  

But you can also adapt the rules, and say that the kids can grab both cards, and THEN say the matching pictures or point to them. OR you can go over each of the pictures before the game and agree on what the pictures are called. Some of my kiddos didn't know what a few of the things are - great teachable moment on vocabulary! 

Tote It! 
I had an old tote that I covered with pretty pattered duct tape & a
laminated sign. I keep the tote behind the circ desk and kids can come up and request it, play the games, and then return it.  During busy recess days, I just put the whole game tote on a round library media table and kiddos help themselves. But I DO make sure they clean up after themselves, good manners expected ALWAYS! Be warned though, the Spot-It game can get a bit rowdy and LOUD. But it's a GOOD loud! It's a loud that makes me happy!

Here's an Amazon Shopping List of what we ordered.
Spot It
Spot it! Hip Card Game
Spot It! Basic English
Happy Salmon Game
Zombie Fluxx
Fluxx (Special Edition)
Small Utility Shower Caddy Tote - Blue
The kids have also asked for a regular deck of cards, but I kinda worried about poker and said no Texas Hold'em....I also have had requests for UNO.  I'll try and get those over the summer or first thing next year!
Your turn!
What kind of games do you have in your school library or classroom? What should I get next? I kinda worry about board games that I foresee cleaning up after and the headache of missing or stray pieces. Is that a problem for you? 

Related Posts!

Gamification for the Win! Escape from Detention

Gaming, Zombies, & Education for the Win!

( Gee whiz, I guess I really like the "for the win" phrase, don't I? I've been using it since early interweb think mudds - yeah, I'm old & nerdy)  

Makerspace Starter Kit

Questions About Coloring & Makerspace

The Way of the Lego

The Zen of Coloring

and from my friend from Perth, Australia

Makerspace Starter Kit | The Bookmarking Librarian


Sunday, April 30, 2017

PicMonkey: Still My Graphic Go-To

I've been sharing my love for this one stop shop of graphic design
goodness for five years now, you'd think they would put me on the payroll or at least fly me to New York, pick me up in a limo, and set me up in the Four Seasons - you know - a just for a casual office visit! 
But, nahhh I just got some stickers & T-shirts to give away at conferences.  But hey, that's OK...because I love them anyway! (**see my sponsorship & street cred pledge to you at the bottom) 

The PicMonkey App - For iPhone & Android.

Get Graphic!
PicMonkey is a free website & app that does wonders with your digital photos in an easy peasy click it and save it kinda way. PicMonkey is free but yes, I enjoy the Royale upgrade - and now it's better than ever!
The graphic at the very top was done on the web version of the site and this one was done just on my phone. In this post I'm going to give a few highlights about each version of PicMonkey.  Of course, the computer version has many more bells and whistles but the mobile app ain't so slouchy!

Get Filtered!

On the mobile app you have a lot of filter choices -  BOOST is one of my favorites. 

What is also nice, is that you can control the intensity, you can erase portions, or draw the effect on, too! 

The filter I used on the left, as you can see, is called Intrepid, which has a nice circle focus effect! 

Just click the check mark on the top RIGHT when you're done. 

But be mindful that once you do that, there's no going back. But on the web version you can undo any step and you also have layers. Like an onion or an ogre. Or Photoshop Elements (my original graphic addiction and tried and true go-to for big jobs!) But I gotta admit to you, Photoshop is HARD. There are things I still don't get with that software! PicMonkey is fast & easy - who doesn't like that?

Get Texty!

The text feature is nice with lots of different fonts to choose from (not as many as the online Royale version, natch) but plenty of script, serif, sans serif, and funky fonts. 

AND you can change the color, size, tilt, rotation, and placement (by pinching and squeezing, takes a bit of practice) it's also easy to delete any layer! Just click the trash, hon! 

Click check to save, but again - no going back & editing.

Get Sticky!

Another cool feature is a variety of stickers you can add to your image. 

You can also change the opacity, color, and size.

Just pinch & squeeze to rotate the sticker. I really like the arrow, as pictured at left, it's really handy for kids & teachers!

Once you're all done, click the check mark and then click save to your camera roll, the hub (if you're Royale) or share to message, mail, Flickr, or Instagram and quite a few other great choices.

The PicMonkey App goes beyond the photo edit features built into my iPhone 7plus - the text feature alone is worth having!  So, if you're on the go, not near a computer, try this! 

PicMonkey - the Website. More Power to Ya! 

Got digital images and near a computer? Try the PicMonkey website for lots of extra features.  Filters, layers, textures, touch ups, and more!

Honestly, if you join PicMonkey just to whiten your teeth, brighten your eyes, and erase any flaws or fine lines - it's worth it and more effective and less expensive than any trip to a plastic surgeon. 

 Umm it's just not real or lasting. 

Get Toolin!
Tasty textures, cool effects, and many, many, themes can be found on the web version of PicMonkey.  For example, I added
clouds to the above picture - and even though the original photo was taken on an overcast dark morning, now with a couple clicks, it's bright with white fluffy clouds and splashes of pink! 

I also like the bokkeh, burst, and light trail textures and fancy focus is super cool!

Social Media Templates That Capture Eyeballs and Create Buzz   

PicMonkey has handy Templates that walk you through a lot of different sizes and types of projects. Even ones for birthday cards, announcements, and for Social Media like Facebook and Instagram.

Get Into the Hub! 
The NEW added hub is a "nifty feature for Premium users that lets you edit your overlays and text after you’ve saved them. Hub also lets you keep all your photos in one convenient location, so it’s easy to pull them up when you want to edit them. No more emailing (*shudder*) your mobile pictures to your computer in order to work on them in With Hub, they’re literally one click away!" Read more about the HUB.


Get FREE or Pay?
You can enjoy PicMonkey's free features as a basic user: core editing and touch up, effects, frames, and templates...or you can go for the Royale Premium Upgrade. 

For the price of one Carmel Caffรจ macchiato a month, you can get a year's worth of graphic goodness.  I use it professionally all the time! It makes great graphics for displays, blogs, and our school social media shares!

There's also a new premium called Supremium but I haven't splurged for that yet.  

Check out their pricing for more options. 

There are a few things I think are worth the yearly cost on the interwebs -Amazon Prime, Netflix, Acorn Media, Flickr Pro, Flocabulary, my Smugmug Archive, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, my domain name, and yes, PicMonkey! 

This year though, I have to admit - I'm gonna cancel my Birchbox

Now...should I splurge for Supremium? Unlimited hub storage...nom nom. Hey PicMonkey, I wouldn't hate you if you upgraded me for free -- forget about the limo & the Four know, just sayin - in a totally shameless way! 

I guess I still love you either way because're pretty much made of AWESOME! 

Resources & Past Posts

PicMonkey is Pretty & Pretty Free for ISTE!

Digital Image Factory & Cue Tips

Lustworthy Fonts Made of Win!

Teaching Good - Branding Evil

My promise:
**No one can pay me to be on this blog, I don't take unsolicited guest posts, paid adverts yet (maybe I'll monetize it as I get closer to retirement!) and all these start ups, infographics, & authors who email me to get on this blog - get a canned (but very polite!) response that's basically "Thanks, but no thanks!"So, I promise you - if you see me talking about a product or a website - it really is one that I like and use. I know I have my favorites - I'm looking at you Flocabulary and BrainPop! But I really am passionate about not being a vendor sell-out! You know who you are....not judging you tho!  Nope not me...[shakes head emphatically] See...cause I ain't cheap and my street cred meas a lot to me. So, don't ask! Unless it's a BOATLOAD of money - then err maybe baby...hey, wait...that just sounds wrong somehow! Heh heh one ever reads to the end anyway - not even my really, I could say ANYthing here...tempting.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Speed Dating for Book Lovahs!

Hello Book Lovahs!
I want to share with you a favorite book selection activity that the kids dig, is super silly and fun, creates a lot of excitement, and makes the books fly out of the library! I first blogged about this with you back in 2013, added a genre twist last year, and now I've added a video and a few new tweaks! 

With my middle school kids this activity is guaranteed to make them grin, giggle, and cringe a little. Give yourself permission to really ham it up. Because prepare yourselves, book lovahs, this is super cheezy!  

All the resources, printables, graphics, and videos are FREE for you to take, use, & share because they're made using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  

 Set Up & Book Your  Date

To get ready, I take a book cart around first the fiction area, grabbing armfuls of favorite, popular, and good looking books, grouping some by genre like my Teen, realistic novels, and Bluford High series.  

Then I collect a passel of Manga, comic, and graphic novels, and finally I cruise around my non-fiction and add popular like Guinness World Records, DK, Cooking, and sports books.  Lucky for me I also have a couple great kiddos who pitched in and selected some of their favorite books to add, too!  

The trick to staging this activity is to create messy inviting piles of books on each table (by subject, genre, or type), leaving some some flat, some standing up, and just pile it up and add signage

Hey Baby, Give me a Sign!

Next, I printed up some of the posters I designed last year when I blogged with my Californian librarian friend Mary @SEMSLibraryLady about Speed Dating by Book Genre. (Take them, they're FREE! - Wow, I seem to mention that a lot, don't I? But, Who doesn't love FREE?)

Super sports fan 7th grader Dominic, of course, chose all the Tim Green and Mike Lupica books to add to the sports table!

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

YouTube it for a Partial Flip!
Then, using the fun, silly, super cheezy script I wrote a couple years ago, I created a new iMovie with photos, music, and voice over to play for each class giving the directions.

Which I really needed because in the past 3 months I've had bronchitis twice and the days I was leading this activity, my voice was super croaky! (Yeah, that's part of why I've been a slacker about posting lately. But, I'm not apologizing for it, because life and bronchitis happens! So, not apologizing or making excuses!  Reflective Blogging Tip #3) Srsly, the video above saves your voice, time, is a partial flip addition, and it adds extra cheese to the lesson. Besides, let me make a fool of myself with the cheezy delivery and you can just sit back and roll your eyes with the kiddos. You're welcome!  ;-) 

Be Daring - Try a Blind Date!
Laminate some butcher paper book covers with cuts out on the back for bar codes! I made just four. (Yeah, I'm lazy!) Choose a few books, write short provocative blurbs on oversized post-it notes and rubber band em up! (I deliberately chose books I had several of copies of that I hid on a cart- so that if they were checked out I didn't have to do all the work over again - pop in the next copy! Boom! 

Now, set the time bomb timer  (I start with 30 seconds) and go! 
Switching a lot means that kiddos keep moving, talking, and it creates a sense of urgency. I tell the kiddos: "No sitting down  - to find true book love, sometimes you have to be quick on your feet & ready to pounce on the right book! During the 3 or 4 activity rounds you can also play Love Boat Theme by Barry White.

Sort of like musical chairs, but with books! Encourage kids to try a new genre or type of book. Make suggestions! Let the cooperating ELA to Reading teacher wander around making suggestions or pointing out a "good lookin possibility!"


After a couple turns I'll call out that the first 6 kiddos checking out books will get a scratch and sniff bookmark and then they can go, put up their feet, read their new book and hang out in our READING LOVE LOUNGE. ("VIP: Space is limited - hurry kids!") 

Not in the mood? Already got a date? 
Baby, it's all good!
To the kiddos: "Don't want to check out a book today? Not in the mood? Already got a "date?" It's OK if you're already in a committed reading relationship  - I don't want you to cheat on book you've already checked out!  I'm not gonna to force you - I just want you to see what's out there! It's all good!" LOL  

I'll then ask the cooperating teacher now to help out with the timer as I scoot over to the circ desk and check out the books. (Of course I do it myself! Esp, if I don't have a media asst there or a parent volunteer available- and most times, I don't [sad face]) The last round the kiddos can go anywhere in the library to find that "just right" book and then-- in the space of about 15 min almost every kid has a book & they're all smiles! W00t!

I hope you can give it a whirl! I know there are a LOT more ways to do this and some of my favorite teacher librarians do even more intricate dating and book set ups. But I'm kinda lazy! This is easy, fast, fun, cheezy, and effective. 

Your Turn! 
I'd love to hear how YOU do it, additions you would suggest, any changes or opinons in the comments! 

Though I did try and link most of the parts while I was writing this, here's the nuts and bolts of what you'll need to run this activity as described. Feel free though to add your own flair!

FREE online Love Time Bomb!

Speed Dating by Book Genre: Personal Ads  Collaborating with my friend Mary - where it's more about the Genre and it includes a Kahoot exit ticket game!
Feel free to steal and enjoy the posters!

My original Speed Dating with Books! post where I tried to do Vocaroo and it turned into a total fail in the long run! See the update to find out why.  



Book Speed Dating | Mighty Little Librarian

Blind Date with a Book --or--Speed Dating for Books

Book Speed Dating - YouTube

Get On Board the Book Speed Dating Train 

From the Archives: Speed Dating with Books! – School Library ..

Get On Board the Book Speed Dating Train | Programming for Teens ...


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Women's History Month TV Show Scripts

We celebrated Women's History Month at MHMS by creating a book display (naturally!) and daily feature news stories on our live MHTV show about famous and significant women in history! 

Pretty simple. Pretty effective. Happy to share! 

Here are the Google Doc scripts we wrote for this, feel free to copy and use but please keep the attribution and link back.  Thank you!


Please do not ask to be allowed to edit this Google Doc, please just make a copy. Thank you! 

Women’s History Month Book Display - Pull List

(much like me, this list is not perfect by any means)  

Non Fiction  
Women's suffrage : a primary source history of the women's rights movement in America - 305.42 ADA

Failure is impossible! : the history of American women's rights (2000) by Kendall, Martha E. Series: Nonfiction - 305.42 KEN  

The good, the bad, and the Barbie : a doll's history and her impact on us - 688.7 STO  

Take it to the hoop : 100 years of women's basketball (2003) 796.323 STE

Winning ways : a photohistory of American women in sports (1996) by Macy, Sue. 2 Available Add to List Shelf Location: Call Number Nonfiction - 796 MAC  

Outrageous women of the Middle Ages (1998) by Leon, Vicki - 920 LEO  

I am Malala : (2014) 921 YOU Gold rush women (1997) by Murphy, Claire Rudolf. Lexile Measure: - 971.9 MUR
Black women of the Old West (1995) by Katz, William Loren. - 978 KAT    

Encyclopedia of women's history in America. (1996) by Cullen-DuPont, Kathryn Reference Collection - REF 305.4 CUL  

Women of achievement in Maryland history (2002) by Stegman, Carolyn B Reference Collection - REF 920 STE    

Audacity (2015) by Crowder, Melanie. - F CRO  
Mare's war by Davis, Tanita S. - F DAV  
The clockwork scarab : a Stoker & Holmes novel (2013) F GLE   Save Save Save Save Save Save

Saturday, March 4, 2017

12 Insta Easy Instagram
Library & Literacy Promotion Ideas

This is a mirror to a guest blog post on the YALSA blog
WARNING: This post may take a while to load because of several embedded Instagram posts. 

What’s the point of Instagram and why should you spend your precious time and money on it? Well, don’t worry about the cost, because it’s FREE! So, all you really need is creativity and a few
minutes a day to make meaningful, fun, and lasting connections with your community. And with Instagram you get a twofer! Even maybe a threefer, fourfer?! (is that a thing?) That’s right, for the amazing low price of FREE, each Instagram post can cross pollinate to your Twitter, Facebook (:-P), Flickr, Tumblr, and that thing called Swarm that kinda took the place of the annoying Foursquare? That’s pretty powerful!

But to be truly effective with those connections using social media, your graphics, caption copy-writing, conversation, and photography skills should strive to be, positive, professional, and on point. Realize, however, that those skills will be mostly self-taught. But that’s ok, that’s where I come in. We’ve got this! I’ve gathered ten really easy Instagram ideas you can implement tomorrow. You know, librarians can do anything when they set their minds to it! Using social media for library, literacy, book, and program promotion is all about storytelling. And we are born storytellers! The idea is that you’re curating your feed to include online what you would do in person -be influential, personal, relevant, humorous, and educational. 

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

1. Shelfies
The easiest way to share on Instagram is taking the humble shelfie. Like a selfie, but with a book? Asking teens and patrons to hold up the book they just checked out or are returning are called shelfies. I always ask if they want to take a shelfie, and never give any guilt trips if they’re too shy or would prefer not to.

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

But most of my teens love to show off their latest book, and even tag themselves in the picture! Holding up a mustache bookmark is just a bonus. I mustache you to believe me in this!

2. Book Promotion

Using both Instagram stills and up to 60 seconds of video you can easily create engaging book promotions or mini book advertisements using Instagram. Consider the theme, setting, or characters in a book and create a mini-tableau for a photo shoot. Consider taking a few favorite books on a field trip. Some of the best examples of this can be found on Maxwell J Lucas’s Instagram for his school, Glenthorne Library High School Library in South London aka @glenthorne_library. In fact, Maxwell’s whole Instagram account is a best practice for a most of these tips and ideas. He’s the real deal. For example, the photo above - The Man in the High Tower by Phillip K. Dick - did he find the tower first and bring the book later? Either way, brilliant! 

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Video book promotions can be staged as mini-commercials, trailers, or as book talks. Above is an example of one of my teens Dominic, who is a loyal Tim Green sports book fan, and his impromptu book talk on Instagram that was straight from the heart. We had to shoot it twice, because the first time included a spoiler! Make sure to tell kiddos, never include spoilers in their book talks. Not every kid can do a book talk like Dom, without a script, so give the kiddos the option to write it out, practice it a couple times, and are willing to do a few takes before they’re truly comfortable.

Dear @timgreenbooks Hi! This is my 7th Grade student Dominic who is a SUPER FAN of yours. He's read every Tim Green book we have of yours in our school Library ๐Ÿ“š, which is pretty much every book! For him, I make sure to pre-order every new book you write. He also likes to book talk & encourage other kids to read your books! He's like a one man PR machine for your work! It would be really cool if you could give a shout out or say hi and I would pass it along to him! Also, since this is the time of year of giving in miracles, maybe in the new year you would consider a quick Skype visit to his Reading class. Thought I would just throw it out there, you know like a football! ๐Ÿˆ And from me, thank you for writing books that get my kids excited about reading! ~Gwyneth- The Daring Librarian ๐Ÿ˜Ž
A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Promotional Post-It-Book Reviews

Here’s a low tech example of easy book promotion using just post-it notes. To create this interactive display, I just put out a clipboard with sticky notes, a small tin of golf pencils, and a color

copy of @librarian_tiff’s Awesome poster in a plastic stand up. Have kiddos write a quick sticky note about what they liked about the book and stick it on for other kids to read it. Instagram a picture of that note for posterity, and so that other digital kiddos can see it.

I had this display set up about three years ago, and it ran strong for about year then petered out so I put it away. How did it make a come back? With a kiddo just deciding out of the blue and unprompted to write the above fantastic review last week brought the interactive display back out into our library. It’s good to move things around and be ready to cycle displays in and out of your facility - keeps them fresh! Voila! 

3. Book Face
Book covers that feature faces or part of faces, or backs, or legs, or arms are great to hold up and take for what is now called a #BookFace picture. Try to guide teens not be so literal with biographies or celebrity face covers. Though literal interpretations can start the ball rolling!

A post shared by Ferndale Area District Library (@ferndalepubliclibrary) on

Creative staging again can be key - costume and props add to the fun! Bookface duo’s are also charming! For some inspiration, check out the 27 thousand plus examples if you search out the Instagram hashtag #BookfaceFriday


A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

These are super addictive to do! I could see a fun activity where kids compete for the best and most creative #BookFaceFriday.

4. Program Promotion

 Got a great story telling event coming up? Have a Coloring Corner, Lego Wall, or a Makerspace area? How about an upcoming author visit? Or just a regular storytelling day! It’s easy to either promote or share that program using Instagram. Events become fun fodder for great program promotion, when you have your phone handy and are ready to snap and share the awesome things that happens every day in your library. 

5. #BookDropLife
This one is easy and fast to do and I’ve yet to try it! Just stack and take a picture of the popular books that just got returned! Right now, mine would always include Sisters and at least one Manga! This way, teens can come in and grab what was just returned!  
UPDATE: I did a #BookDropLife! And really, people - it's SO easy! 


A post shared by SEMS Library (@libraryatsems) on
6. New Book Reveal 

Unboxing new books is the BEST! Let others get into the fun of that exciting reveal by taking pictures or videos of the unveiling. This example is from my friend and California library professional, Mary Clark, who has been on the forefront of leveraging the power of Instagram and information curation for years. I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from her.

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

7. Caught Reading
Catch teens and patrons reading. Take their picture, then ask if it’s OK to post on Instagram. OR, totally pose it! It encourages teens to rest, relax, and read.
Or listen!

A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
I’ve also taken pictures of my teens listening to audio books - almost seems like they’re napping! Wake up Gabe, 8th grade recess is over! Either way, these caught reading photos are contagious, you’ll find that kids will come in, read conspicuously, and almost beg to be highlighted on your Instagram.

A post shared by SEMS Library (@libraryatsems) on
A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

8. Reading and Library Quotes
It’s great fun to mix it up and create a graphics maker like Photoshop,, or to create good looking quotes that inspire the reader in all of us and post to Instagram! Tech tip: I use my Dropbox or Flickr to get them to my mobile devices.

9. Mini-Virtual Tours

Use Instagram video to create mini virtual tours of your library and it’s features. Get creative, remember stop action, add music, use interesting angles, and add signage or text overlay to jazz it up. Tech Tip: Flipagram is a great FREE video editing app that lets you include animated drawings, text overlay, stickers, and popular music in 30 second clips and then either download to your phone or share with Instagram. For a $1.99 you can even take off the Flipagram watermark. 

10. Insta-Contests
Instagram is a great way to share and run a contest with the community! It gives an opportunity for people to chime in, answer questions, and interact with you. Pick your winner from those who leave comments, follow, or share related original content. It’s a fun and easy way to get the community involved. 


A post shared by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

11. Book Displays
Confession, I hate making book displays. My creative powers are there, but mostly for graphic design. So, when I do create a book display, I try and show it off using Instagram. 

12. Be on Trend
Jump on the latest hashtag trend but give it a book or library spin! This can happen on both Instagram and on Twitter. In fact, one of my most liked and re-tweeted posts was the one above. When you see a trending hashtag in the Social Media or Instagram world, why not have some fun and give it a whirl?  

So, give a professional Instagram account a whirl! Connect it to your Twitter and any other Social Media outlets that you utilize to promote the awesome that happens every day in your school! 

--------Stop! BUT WAIT!--------
What if you're not sure you're allowed to take pics of kids or are afraid of repercussions? I always get this at conferences and in the comments - Well, here's a few ideas!

If you're worried about that a LOT of great pictures can be taken from behind the kiddos, over their shoulders, cropped out faces, all artsy like! You would not believe how kids know their own hands, backs of heads, arms, or even toes!

OR for bookface, have them hold the books in front of their whole face - same with SHELFIES - have them peek over the the top of the book. 

BE Creative!

Don't let these worries keep you from sharing the AWESOME that happens every day in your school, classroom, or Library!


Resources & Credits:

Lowering the tone: doing social media at Bodleian Libraries

Some of the best and most inspiring ideas I ever got about sharing on Instagram for libraries was from this article by @AdamKoszary the guy who sparked Bodleian feed.


This inspiring and illustrative blog post was written by my friend Mary Clark of @libraryatsems. She’s a must follow on Twitter, too! Mary Clark (@SEMSLibraryLady)

Social Media Resources 101 for the School Librarian from School Library Journal

20+ EASY Ways to Make Picture Quotes Online!

Some recent and related posts:
4 Fun FREE Apps to Win The Instagram Game
Social Media Mind Shift
6 Ways to Avoid Those Social Media Landmines

A Shockingly Private Blog Post About Social Media



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