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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
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?
- 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.
- As librarians, we should support the EPUB standard (DRM free).
- Calibre-ebook.com is a converter for eBooks into the EPUB standard.
- ireaderreview and teleread.org are both blogs that follow the eReader market. (Along with Sue’s blog No Shelf Required)
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
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?????