Librarians have always taught patrons how to use the tools that serve their information needs. We had to explain card catalogs, vertical files, microfilm/fiche, photocopiers, and OPACs. The fundamental difference about the tech needs of the 21st century is the ever-changing variety of personal devices that patrons use to access our services. Some libraries are lucky enough to have dedicated staff with special training to serve these patrons directly, but most of the time it’s a library generalist fielding question after question about something new every day. How do frontline staffers with self-taught or very basic knowledge of technology stay savvy about the latest and hottest gadgets? How do we train nontechnical staff to troubleshoot effectively and train our patrons to use their own gadgets?
In March 2011, the Boise Public Library (BPL), ID, used $3,300 in Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant funding to purchase four iPad 2 tablets and all of the trimmings. As it turned out, BPL may have been a couple of years ahead of its time. This conversation is now coming full circle. Technological advances continue to make tablets lighter, faster, and more affordable. Vendors have recently launched interfaces that make it possible to use a staff tablet to perform tasks ranging from weeding books to signing up new cardholders. Also, applying lessons learned about these devices during the past five years, many libraries are rebooting or enhancing the way tablets are integrated into roving reference, off-site programs, and other workflows.
SELF-e is the partnership between Library Journal and Charleston, SC’s BiblioLabs. A BiblioLabs product, Biblioboard, is a platform that seeks to bring (among other things) self-published works into the library ecosystem. I spoke recently with Hallie Rich, Cuyahoga County Public Library’s communications and external relations director, about the library’s pilot project with the platform.
When superstorm Sandy hit the east coast in October 2012, the Queens Library (QL) in New York was among many northeastern library systems affected. QL persevered, continuing to offer crucial services in storm-ravaged communities while rebuilding damaged branches. The system also managed to turn a generous corporate donation into an innovative new platform for tablet computers, enabling a tech lending program that has since continued to grow.
In early April 2013, digital journalism professor Robert Hernandez, of the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Los Angeles, was driving by L.A.’s Central Library downtown while thinking of ideas for his experimental augmented reality (AR) storytelling and journalism course when he had an aha moment: Why not focus a project on augmenting the Central Library?
Following four months of discussions with SirsiDynix and a brief pilot test this summer, Maryland’s Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) on September 5 officially launched the “I Love My Library” prepaid Visa debit card. Developed by SirsiDynix in partnership with Visa and Card Limited, the new affinity cards double as a patron’s library card and aim to help libraries achieve three goals.
Using funding provided by a local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America, New York’s Greenburgh Public Library this spring installed an audio frequency induction loop (AFIL) in its multipurpose room. AFILs enable public address systems and other AV equipment to send audio transmissions directly to hearing aids, eliminating background noise for hearing impaired visitors.
In an effort to address the lack of broadband access among low-income residents, the Chicago Public Library (CPL), and New York Public Library (NYPL) on June 23 announced new programs that will allow patrons to check out and take home wifi hotspots. NYPL’s “Check Out the Internet,” and CPL’s “Internet to Go” programs are made possible, in part, by grants awarded this week by the Knight News Challenge, a competition developed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Mozilla, to fund and promote projects committed to making the Internet an open, equitable platform.
Building on the success of its existing job search and job training programs, the Queens Library recently began testing a new touch-screen job search kiosk at its central branch in Jamaica, Queens. The kiosk is driven by Apploi, a mobile app launched in April 2013 by recruitment software and services provider Innovate CV, and is […]