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On May 7, 2010 at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center in Amherst, NY, WNYLRC held a conference called “Gadgets and Gear: A Tech Gathering.”  Presentations were given by Meredith Farkas, Head of Instructional Initiatives at Norwich University, VT and Sue Polanka, Head of Reference and Instruction at Wright State University Libraries, OH.  In addition to the two speakers, there were demonstrations of various mobile devices that would be useful for libraries (including an iPad!!!)  I have to say, after seeing all the eReaders demonstrated, I personally do not feel the need to have one (other than the iPad, but that is not strictly an eReader).  I feel that there is too many problems with DRM at this time to make it worth while to have one.  Also, and this may be the gadget geek in me, I would want something that did more than just had eBooks on it.  I was prepared to be wowed by the Nook – something I had always thought I would want, but even that turned out to be a bit of a let down.

Meredith Farkas’ presentation was entitled “The Library in Your Pocket: Mobile Trends for Libraries.”  A link to materials she used in the presentation can be found at http://meredithfarkas.wetpaint.com/ She told the audience that she was pragmatic about emerging technologies, she had a father who was an early adapter of technologies and she remembers being able to play with them once he no longer used them (which was usually in a couple of months).

  • 4.1 billion text messages are sent every day
  • By 2020 – mobile devices will be the way people primarily access the web
  • 94% of students send and receive text messages
  • Big trends is apps for smartphones – the apps need to be built for every different OS on mobile phones (e.g. an iPhone app, a Droid app, a Blackberry app)
  • HTML5 is still under consideration by the W3C.  HTML5 will be able to run an application regardless of the OS and without plugins.  It will make Flash obsolete (Flash is a closed system).
  • Google Voice built its website using HTML5
  • Mobile social software apps are the most popular apps.
  • 2D codes are a “new” trend.  The most popular is the QR code seen throughout Europe and Asia.  It is not as popular yet in the US.
  • Microsoft has it’s own 2D code known as Microsoft Tag.
  • QR codes are being used by cultural institutions to provide more information on displays/exhibits.
  • Google is promoting QR codes heavily with it “favorite places“.
  • Kaywa, i-nigma, and beetagg work well as readers
  • RFID and mobile phones is a trend that is not here yet, but something to think about.  Used phone as credit card, library card, etc.
  • Layar and Acrossair are browsers that are used with augmented reality apps.
  • Google Goggles is an augmented reality that works only with Droid phones.
  • TAT augmented ID not available yet, but something to think about.
  • Media literacy is knowing what to share online and what not to post.  Privacy issues and making sure you don’t put your foot in your mouth (by posting on Twitter how much your job sucks, stc.)
  • You need to go back frequently and check your privacy settings, esp on Facebook.  Facebook is one of the biggest offenders on privacy right now.
  • Information literacy now includes the social web.  Teach people how to find out where the data comes from that they are seeing on these social sites and how do they know it is reliable.
  • When looking at your library’s mobile needs, assess your users.  How do they access the web?
  • You can use Twitter for proactive reference help.
  • When designing a mobile site for the library – ask yourself what services would your users want to use on their mobile devices?  (Most will not want to do in depth database research on a mobile device.)
  • Also determine what services you can make available on a mobile site?  Are you going to make a separate mobile version of your site (makes most sense) or are you going to just have mobile devices just use a different style sheet?
  • Detection algorithm – you can set up your site to detect how users are accessing it.  It will redirect to the mobile version of the site for mobile users.  You can find these algorithms online and just plug in your library website’s info.

A Good Mobile User’s Site

  • Break the information into tasks (hours, directions, find books)
  • Most important content should be at the top
  • Minimize the need to scroll
  • Icon with text links are ideal
  • Shorten text to the minimal amount needed
  • Minimize the need to type

Included in a good library mobile website

  • Catalog search
  • Databases (IF they are optimized for mobile devices)
  • Circ info (due dates, holds, etc)
  • Reference info
  • Hours

You need to make things task specific.  Most people do not visit the FAQs on websites.

  • There are mobile site generators on the web that can “mobify” your site.  A good one is “Mobile Site Generator” from the UNC libraries.
  • Another set of tools you want to become familiar with when creating mobile content are emulators/simulators.  These will show you how mobile sites will look on different devices.  There is a list of emulators/simulators on Meredith’s page from this conference.
  • Some libraries are making library apps for mobile phones.  If you want to do this, do it in addition to your mobile website, not instead of it.
  • SirsiDynix has an app for the iPhone called BookMyne.  WorldCat has a mobile app called Boopsie.
  • Library Anywhere from LibraryThing creates a mobile app for your library at a relatively low cost.
  • Overdrive also has a mobile interface (which uses a QR code to download to your mobile device!)
  • One of the easiest ways to make your special collections (photos) available as a mobile application is to add them to Flickr.
  • Location Aware Technologies can help patrons find a book in the library.  (e.g. Smart Library at Oulu University in Finland, Mobile Oxford Portal, and Durham (UK) Technology-Enhanced Campus)
  • QR Codes in the stacks could take patrons to a mobile version of the catalog.
  • QR codes at the front door of the library could send patrons to the mobile site.
  • Augmented Reality in the library could show subjects available on a particular shelf.
  • Text messaging button in the catalog that could send call number and title to a patron’s phone.
  • Anything with a RSS feed can be converted into a text message.  Patrons could receive updated info from blog posts, etc as a text message (opt in).
  • Mosio’s Text a Librarian software can be used for SMS reference as well as some other services (see Meredith’s post for this presentation).
  • Screencasts should be used for instructional videos.  (List on screencasting software can be found here.)
  • Podcast ideas – research tips, library instruction, book reviews, programs.
  • Could make handouts with QR codes on them that could take people to more information than can be fit on the sheet.
  • QR codes in the stacks could link patrons to subject guides relevant to that stack.

Sue Polanka was the second speaker.  She has a blog called “No Shelf Required” and has a book coming out this summer bu the same name.  She discussed eBooks and eReaders and what their future is within the library community.  The name of her presentation was “eBook Devices & Libraries.”

  • eReaders can fulfill ILL requests quickly.  If there is something a library does not have that can be purchased through an eBook provider, the patron does not have to wait.  The cost may be cheaper than ILL fees.
  • eReaders can help in demand driven purchasing of materials.  Patrons could be allowed to take out an eReader and purchase one title on the library’s account.  The eReader would then be a collection of patron picked titles.
  • eReaders go to consumers directly for purchases.  Libraries are trying to squeeze in the middle of this business model.
  • Overdrive, EBL, and NetLibrary are the most friendly (compatible) companies when selecting materials to be lent out for eReaders.
  • EBL’s content is available to 24 different eBook readers.  It uses Adobe Digital Editions as it’s basis.
  • There are about 99 different eReaders out there and the number is growing.

What makes eBooks incompatible on some readers?

  • DRM
  • Software places limits
  • Excludes printing, sharing, and downloading
  • There is a built in safety net for publishers.

The standard is EPUB.  It is an open standard – a file extension on an XML file.  Sony & iPad have adopted EPUB as their standard.  The trouble is that DRM can still be added at the end of the file.

Trends for 2010 for eReaders/eBooks

  • Brutal competition among eReaders
  • Competition between do everything devices and dedicated readers
  • Increase in eBook sales
  • Increase in eReader sales (due to prices coming down)
  • Rise in self publishing
  • Experimentation

Sue thinks that the future of eBooks is going to be in the computing cloud.  The book would be available to be read on all of the patrons different mobile devices and would be bookmarked as to where they left off.

Google Editions, Blio, Ibis, Copia, and Kobo are the new eBook readers.  (Not all are physical devices. Incidentally, I received an e-mail about the Kobo eReader being available while I was at the conference.)

It was a very informative conference.  I was sad I did not win any of the gadget raffles.  I also found out I suffer from Technolust (Meredith’s word) for the iPad.  I still think I am going to hold out for the next iteration of it though.  (Maybe it will have a camera by then!)  I am definitely looking forward to trading my Blackberry (which has served me well) in for a Droid so I can play with some of these augmented reality apps and other mobile apps that my library might be able to use.  I wonder if I can write it off as a business expense on my taxes?????


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Today I attended a webinar entitled “Technology Trends in Libraries: Tools, Skills, Staffing, Training”.  It was billed as part of the “Library Futures: Staying Ahead of the Curve Series” presented by Eric Lease Morgan and Marshall Breeding.  This webinar was offered through the College of DuPage.  I found the webinar to be very disappointing, much of the material presented was at least 6 months old.  Some I had already had experience with in library school (I graduated in May of 2008).  That being said, here our my notes from this webinar and from tweets from some of the other participants.

  • The newest trends in library services have more of an intense focus on the end user.
  • Students were interviewed and asked what they liked about Google, they stated that Google was the first thing that popped into their heads, it was usually contained in the toolbar, and it automatically fixes spelling.
  • They also admitted that Google can be a bit overwhelming with all the results and that the results are not always the most reliable sources.
  • Students were then asked about library catalogs and databases.  They feel that library catalogs and databases were the polar opposite of Google.  They are hard to use and there are too many options.  They did not like the concept of using controlled vocabulary.
  • The students did admit that they liked the content found in the databases and usually received a higher grade on papers written with database sources rather than Google sources.
  • It seemed to be a consensus that a combination of the two – Google for general info and then going to the databases for reliable info.
  • They also stated that they wished library databases worked like Google.
  • Libraries today have many competitors like Amazon, Google, Wikipedia, and Ask.com.
  • Libraries should strive to have a single point of entry to all the content & services of the library.
  • Question is – how do we get past a catalog that just addresses physical things in our library and not digital content also?
  • Federated searches have not worked out well.
  • Web scale search is the up and coming way to search.  Search not only the metadata, but the full text as well (SOPAC2).
  • Check out Phoenix Public Library and Queens Public Library for examples.
  • We also need to start thinking about our library interfaces on mobile devices.
  • A way to describe length of electronic text (like we describe physical books by page count) is with word counts.
  • Open Source Software should be seen as free as in liberty, not free as in gratis.
  • Open Source Software is about as free in price as a free kitten.
  • Open Source Software doesn’t work unless there is community.
  • Community builds tweaks into the software.
  • Databases stink when it comes to a search – you want an indexer.
  • Open Source Software does have support – increasingly companies provide support for OSS (e.g. LibLime for KOHA).
  • We need to have people who have expertise in computers on staff in our libraries.
  • Learn Swish-e – Windows/Unix based indexing program (others suggested Lucene, Solr, Backlight, & VuFind).
  • Explore making XML files.

There is a major question of how to preserve born digital content.

  • Digital content is fragile
  • Bit rot – digital corruption
  • Continuous cycles of formats
  • How do we migrate this?  Media/format/standards?
  • Who is going to keep these files forever?  Partnerships?
  • How are we going to compensate for bit rot?

As I said previously, not much new, but it is good to keep all these ideas in mind.

10/17/2009 – NYLA Conference – Niagara Falls, NY

LISHost – another Blake Carver site (He does LIS News)

Retro future blog – shows predictions from the 1950s

Top 5 things for 2009 (from Read, Write Web):

1. Structured data – XML tags define and describe the data – not OS or device dependent. Tags are created in English. Most website today are made in XHTML. Data is in XML and style is in CSS. Such things as APA and MARC records are structured data – not really a new thing to librarians. Structured data makes it that the whole web could eventually be treated as a database.

2. Real Time Web – Running a search and finding results from last 5 seconds, etc. (Check out Google flu: http://www.google.org/flutrends/).

3. Personalization – Syracuse University just made “Mybrary” (https://library.syr.edu/mybrary/). APML – take your interests and code. (Attention Profiling Markup Language http://apml.areyoupayingattention.com/).

4. Augmented Reality – GPS, Direction you are facing, picture recognition – tells you what that place is. (check out layar website: http://layar.com/) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b64_16K2e08&feature=player_embedded ) A tour guide is analog augmented reality.

5. Internet of things – Identifying image (such as a bar code) and bring back information about the thing. iPhone has an application that you can pick up a book at Barnes and Noble and take a picture of the cover and find out the different prices of the book at competitors. (Explanation of “Internet of Things”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things)