Posts filed under ‘Technology’

What do we do when wi-fi booms?

We’ve been able to use free computers and Internet as a selling point for library services over the past few years. It has led to an increase in patron visits for most libraries and continues to be a major service provided for many patrons. Overall, the only major problem patrons have with Internet usage in libraries is the ability to customize the computer to their liking (i.e. download/update software, files, etc.). 

Wi-fi is a nice addition as it allows patrons more access to more content and the ability to download software without having to worry about the library policies and security settings. Considering the latest drop in laptop prices and the rise of the netbook, wi-fi is becoming a major sell for many of our patrons.

But what happens when wi-fi becomes commonplace?

The affordability of laptops and other wi-fi enabled devices becomes more negligible each day. Just this past weekend the Trenton-area circulars advertised laptops for under $200. Wi-fi cellphones may still cost a bit right now but two years down the road, when it’s time to re-sign your cellphone contract and get the free upgrade, don’t be surprised is wi-fi is standard or available on the lower end models. Even personal gaming systems have wi-fi capabilities; no upgrades required.

The point is, the ability to access wi-fi is already here, the thing holding it back is where to find free wi-fi… and that is quickly growing.

This past week, my family and I took a vacation to Deep Gap, North Carolina. Don’t feel bad if the name doesn’t ring a bell, its major selling point is that it is in the middle of nowhere and hard to find. That said, the recreation center had free wi-fi for all visitors and residents. The Burger King we stopped into to let the girls burn some energy on the playground also had free wi-fi for all its customers. As a matter of fact, we probably had more difficulty getting a good cellphone signal than we did finding a wi-fi signal (this was certainly the case in the Blue Ridge Mountains).

Many companies, social organizations and eateries are finding out what most libraries know; free wi-fi brings in more people and that means more sales. Going to Google and typing in “Free wi-fi New Jersey” pulls up several sites dedicated to finding free signals. Some of the sites even catagorize the signals by establishment (restaurant, hotel, spas).

I’m happy to say that libraries still seem to be the leader of free wi-fi areas for most of these sites.

July 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm 6 comments

ALA Council Passes Resolution Defining Core Competences for Librarianship


Core competences for librarianship were finally defined at the very recent Midwinter Meeting in Denver, where the ALA Council passed the resolution, and this Tuesday, ALA sent out a press release summarizing the resolution and providing links to the core competences site and a pdf. The document defines the basic knowledge to be possessed by all persons graduating from an ALA-accredited master’s program in library and information studies.

The core competences “stress the role of library and information professionals in promoting democratic principles and intellectual freedom, knowing and applying the legal framework guiding libraries and information agencies – including laws relating to copyright, privacy, freedom of expression, equal rights and intellectual property – and identifying and analyzing emerging technologies and innovations.”

I especially enjoyed reading from their press release the “identifying and analyzing emerging technologies and innovations” phrase above myself! ;)

Do take a look at the entire core competences doc for all of the details when you get a moment.

-Robert Lackie

Technorati Tags: ALA, core competences, emerging technologies, librarianship, Library Garden

February 26, 2009 at 8:03 am 4 comments

Firefox 3.0 Is Here (almost)

Just a quick reminder, the new Firefox 3.0 will be available to download tomorrow, June 17, 2008. The new version has been ‘improved’ to include one-click bookmarking (is it really too complicated now?), phishing and malware protection, new productivity tools, and the ability to customize.

It will be interesting to see how well the roll-out goes. Now that Mozilla and Firefox are so much better known than in the past, will the ‘improved’ product be as exciting? My own experience of products I love being ‘improved’ has been poor–generally a loved product becomes something so different I change brands. With technology, improvements and upgrades make more sense than say with deodorant, soI hope that is true with this!

They are trying to create a world record for the most software downloads in a day. If you download tomorrow as part of the world-record quest, let us know how it goes. Me, I will wait a few days….

June 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

What Would You Ask Bill Gates? (and Why Doesn’t YOUR Library Website Look Like This?)

I just received an interesting email indicating that I could have the opportunity to ask a question to Bill Gates.

Well, there is a small catch (of course). I (and everyone else on the planet) can submit questions and the “best one” will be chosen and asked of Mr. Gates….

I have no idea what criteria will be used to determine “the best” question…. but I thought it might be an interesting chance to recommend a question.

Another interesting aspect of this that I didn’t realize until I followed the link, is seeing what others are suggesting…. Some are serious, some are funny.

I thought it might be interesting if it happens that A LOT of LIBRARIANS suggest questions. (Who knows, maybe one will even be the “chosen” one.) I think it would be interesting if there were so many suggestions by librarians, on this otherwise non-library-related site, that the general public (or readership of this site) noticed. I wonder what they would think. I wonder what, if anything, would happen.

We out here in library-land have had our own “dealings with” Mr. Gates and we may have some specific questions we want to ask him…..

This is all taking place over on FastCompany.com – a magazine and site I really like. In fact, I have been thinking about doing a post about their site ever since I joined it because I think it is an interesting approach and one that libraries should consider.

It is a very “social” site, but it is a specific social site and not just a general social site for the sake of being a social site, such as facebook and/or MySpace*. What I mean by this is that you can sign-in and personalize your whole experience and use of this site. There are specific categories and interests (for this site they include “leadership”, “management”, “technology”, etc. all related to business… but things that I am interested in nonetheless). When I log in this is what I see:


So I have my own area with any messages or other information I might want – and I have controls on the right to edit my profile, post, invite others, send a message, etc….

Some libraries ARE doing things like this on their website, or on another virtual presence, and I am certainly not the first or only to call for this. However, not enough are doing things like this. As I was signing up for my account on fastcompany.com I couldn’t help but think about library websites as I went through all of my options and interests…. What topics am I interested in? Which newsletters and updates would I want to receive. What do I want my “homepage” to look like when I come here and sign-in… these would all be great features on a library website.

Look at this particular part of my page on fastcompany.com:

I know it might be small here, but in that red box I’ve drawn I have all these MY things, and they literally say they are MY things: MY contacts, MY bookmarks, MY feeds, MY settings, MY network, MY recommendations, etc…. this really makes this MY page to me, for me, when I come to this site.

It also makes it much more specific, interesting and useful to me. I have already narrowed-down what aspects of this page/company I am interested in… and it is all ready for me right on the front page FOR ME when I sign-in here.

Additionally, right above that are the general topic areas for fastcompany.com – Innovation, Technology, Leadership, etc…. all interesting and attractive (to me) to click on and go right to what might be of interest. I can also easily find people, groups, and blogs, of interest to me. This provides me a chance to create an even more specific, smaller, community within this community for me. I joined the Leadership group and the Technology group here, and even started my own, called Librarians just because I am like that! ;-) I like to put libraries and librarians in wherever ‘technology’ is. So far, no one has noticed it, but I wonder what might happen if they did. (“Librarians!? Technology and business?! Huh!?”)

I also just happened to see my.barackobama.com . If you check out this site you can again see that this is the Barack Obama site for YOU. Here is what it can look like:

It can have everything for ME - My People, MY Network, My Blog, etc… I keep finding that sites like these provide people an opportunity to have a blog right within them – on this topic of interest to them. They don’t need to go to any specific blogging site (like blogger or wordpress or whatever – not that there’s anything wrong with them). These sites are providing them with blogging spots, on sites of their own interest, where others come who have the same interest, thus providing a built-in readership for their individual blog. I think a lot of people wonder who would read their blog and why. People hear about “blogs” all the time, but maybe they aren’t ready to actually GO to a blogging site, sign-up and start blogging. But maybe on a site they like and use, with an easy way to blog right there, they might just do it. This is something libraries could provide…

Maybe these are not earth-shattering things, but it seems to me that I am seeing more and more websites like these. Library websites are already, for the most part, behind the times, and as more of these sites go to more and more personalized interfaces, we don’t want to be another generation behind.

So, anyway, submit your potential question for Mr. Gates (by posting it in a comment on the post) and also take a little tour around FastCompany.com … and my.barakobama.com, if you’re so inclined.

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* Don’t get me wrong, I (of course) think you can create for yourself and have a very personalized and meaningful experience on facebook….. but again, that happens when you create a “community” within a “community,” which is what I feel happens within fastcompany.com

June 4, 2008 at 11:35 am 3 comments

The New IT Librarian Application

In the past couple weeks, I’ve listened to a few librarians talk about the woes of their supposed IT specialists.

The problem? They are really good with buzzwords and not so great with applications. Some have complained that their IT specialist were generally unfamiliar with basic computer competencies. And while it is generally deemed okay for a ‘normal’ librarian to be unfamiliar with computer applications and some 2.0 technologies, this should be essential for a person who specialized in IT for their library. If not, we are then left with libraries that stagnate in their IT competencies and fall behind the tech-trend.

So, let’s lose the buzzword interviews. Let’s plan an application process that would really test the abilities of your IT specialist.

When the job is posted for a general IT position, require that the application and cover letter be sent via email in an attachment. If they can’t do this, which is largely considered a basic competency, then they are not qualified for the job. Require a cell phone number (more on this later).

If they are applying for a webmaster position, require them to post their resume online. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a site with resume and a link to download the resume as well… to show they have basic web-design skills.

If the person’s resume and cover letter meet your standards, TEXT their cell phone to set up an interview. Unorthodox? Perhaps, but part of the IT personality is embracing modern technology. Texting is one of the most popular means of communication with our younger population and, if we want to stay current with our patrons, then we need make sure our IT people are familiar with it as well.

Next, set up a time to talk meet your potential employee ONLINE. Nothing complicated, have them meet you on G-chat, Meebo, AIM or whatever. Once they get there, just hold a brief conversation about what the upcoming interview will entail, quick clarification questions, or see if they have any questions. Better yet, perhaps ask them, for the interview; to prepare a brief demonstration on their favorite 2.0 technology that they think would be useful or popular with the community. The importance is not the conversation itself but more that, once again, they are familiar with using this technology. Again, IM is a popular method of communication and your IT specialist should be comfortable with it.

By this time the interview comes, you will have a basic understanding of the applicant’s technological ability. If they needed instruction or familiarization with any of these things, that should be a warning flag. When they give their demonstration, you will also be able to see how well they can communicate the use of these technologies to other people and just how ambitious their Library 2.0 goals are.

Yes, I do realize there is a possible flaw in this method; it requires that someone on the interview team be familiar with technology as well. It’s a conundrum, that’s for sure. But, let’s look beyond that.

Oh, and if you want to have a little fun with them at the interview, put them in front of a computer with the machine on but the monitor off (or unplugged) and ask them to figure out the problem. Tell them you’ve tried hitting the machine but ‘nothing happened.” If they look at you, remark, “I just don’t think this machine likes me very much.” Then watch for a reaction.

May 15, 2008 at 10:02 am 16 comments

Bamboo: Great tool for a great price

Check it out! Look what I can draw on my computer!
Well, yeah… I know it’s not Mona Lisa but, hey, it was my first try. It deserves some credit, right?
Bamboo is marketed as the affordable and ‘fun’ drawing tablet for the recreational artist. At $79, they were right on the money with affordable. As for fun, I am having trouble putting the pen down.
The learning curve for using Bamboo is pretty low. If you know how to hold a pen, and have a semi-steady hand, there really isn’t much else to learn.
Installation is a piece of cake as well, essentially a plug ‘n’ play device. The pen can double as a mouse and the tablet can be used in leiu of the primary mouse. Every button is customizable, which makes it very convenient to the user. As you can probably guess, I have the second button on the pen set to Control-Z in order to quickly erase those all-too-common slips of the hand.
The box also comes with Adobe Photoshop and Corel Ink. Both are solid quality image softwares that should appease most users.
If you are looking to provide a little ‘something more’ for your patrons’ computer resources, Bamboo might just be an ideal purchase. As for programs, it is a great addition for any graphic novel club, Photoshop instruction, and even handy if you wanted to create a digital signature.
You might want to come up with some check-out or anti-theft attachment for the pen and mouse though, both could easily walk.
That said, I know exactly what new tech toy I am going to be pushing at my library.

April 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm 1 comment

Friday Fun: Test Your Technology Type

PEW Internet and American Life Project has a quick 10 question test for people to see what kind of technology user they are.

When looking at the different types of users, I was pretty suprised to see that the American population was well dispersed between the 10 different categories.

My results pegged me as an Omnivore, which comprises 8% of the general population. The provided description was pretty accurate, the only big miss being that I do not own a Blackberry/iphone.

But I will…. oh yes, I will. bwahahahahahaha!

February 8, 2008 at 11:43 am 9 comments

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