There's no question about it--gadgets are everywhere. Just go for a walk outside and you're sure to see people using cell phones, laptops, GPS systems and other devices. The library is no exception, and the new technologies are emerging and changing so quickly that it can be hard to get a grip on what you need, what you want, and what can be helpful to staff and patrons.
Fortunately for TechSource readers, Jason Griffey is here to help out. Jason is the author of the April issue of Library Technology Reports, "Gadgets and Gizmos: Personal Electronics and the Library", which will be a practical guide to the present and the future of these tools and what they can do for the librarian.
The issue will be available for purchase next month, and Jason will be hosting a webinar at WebJunction where attendees will have a chance to discuss this topic with him directly. You can register for the webinar at http://evanced.info/webjunction/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=1644.
I asked Jason a few questions to get a chance of what we can expect to hear about in his writing and his webinar.
Dan Freeman: So you’ve got this issue of LTR on Gadgets and the Library coming up—give us a quick preview.
Jason Griffey: What I wanted to do with this Library Tech Report was to talk about what I saw as a disconnect in the ways that I saw librarians talking about technology. Libraries have, throughout their history, focused on content acquisition and curation. As we move fully into the new world of digital media, this content is distinct from its container, and I wanted to spend some time talking about the containers.
DF: I feel like I should start by asking you why you came up with the idea, but the answer to that seems sort of obvious—because this is an inescapably important topic. So I’ll ask you how you narrowed your focus. Why are you discussing the particular gadgets you are discussing.
JG: The majority of the LTR is focused on eReaders like the Kindle, Nook, and others. That seemed like a no-brainer for libraries and librarians, but I also wanted to focus on gadgets that crossed the media literacy divide and allowed for consumption and creation of audio and video as well as text. I tried to focus on what I thought were the best-in-class for each type of gadget, although I'll admit I did want to take a few pages and just show librarians who might not be technology obsessed the wide variety of things available now. I just couldn't resist talking about an electronic interactive rabbit, either...pick up the LTR to see what I mean!
DF: Your LTR was guided, to some extent, by your trip to the Consumer Electronics Show. Tell me about CES from a librarian’s perspective. What did you see there that seemed most applicable to the library world?
JG:CES was definitely one of the most overwhelming experiences I've ever had. It makes the ALA Annual conference look like a quaint gathering...we're talking about over 110,000 people, with the largest electronics companies in the world showing off their newest tech. Just one of the major booths (Samsung, Sony, Panasonic) would be almost half the size of the ALA Midwinter entire exhibit hall. It was just incredible.
I really tried to focus on seeing and getting my hands on any technology that would be interesting to libraries. I saw something like 2 dozen different eReaders, two different tech demos of color eInk technologies, and two new eBook technologies that really impressed me. I also looked at camcorders, audio recorders....really anything that I could imagine a library wanting to check out to their patrons.
DF: What’s the plan for the Webinar? Are you going to focus in on a particular area that’s in your LTR?
JG: I imagine that I'll focus quite a bit on the iPad, as it will have been out a few weeks when the webinar happens. I do talk about it in the LTR, but we'll know a lot more when it actually gets into people's hands. I'll also focus on any changes to the gadgets that I talk about, as some of them are just starting to hit the market. There's a lot to talk about in just an hour or so, but I'll try and focus on those gadgets that I see making a difference in libraries this year.