For immediate release | June 17, 2013

Winning libraries share cutting-edge services at Annual Conference, June 30

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four libraries recognized for their use of cutting-edge technologies in library services will share information on the development and impact of these services at the 2013 American Library Association Annual Conference, from 8:30 - 10 a.m. June 30 in McCormick Place Convention Center Room N427bc.

The Cutting-edge Technology in Library Services recognition is presented by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy and the Library & Information Technology Association (LITA) and showcases libraries that are serving their communities using novel and innovative methods.

Featured speakers include:

  • Brigitte Doellgast, director, Goethe-Institut Library, N.Y.: German Traces NYC;
  • Chris Harris, coordinator, School Library System, Genesee Valley (N.Y.) Educational Partnership: WEBOOKS;
  • Mary Anne Hodel, director, Orange County (Fla.) Library System: Right Service at the Right Time;
  • Leslie Sult, associate librarian, University of Arizona Libraries: Guide on the Side.

“This year’s winners represent creative and cost-effective engagement with technology trends including BYOD (bring your own device), augmented reality, e-government, crowd-sourcing, and online learning,” said Marc Gartler, branch manager, Madison (Wis.) Public Library, who chaired the selection subcommittee and will moderate the conference panel. “We are excited to recognize these fantastic projects and believe they have the potential to be replicated by many libraries across the country.”

Boston College High School’s Corcoran Library also was recognized as one of the 2013 winners but is unable to join the panel. Brief information about each of the projects is listed below, and more detailed case studies of the projects will be available online later this month.

German Traces NYC, Goethe-Institut New York Library with Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science, New York City

The Goethe-Institut and Pratt Institute teamed up to develop German Traces NYC. This mobile experience uses an augmented reality app to allow learners to explore German cultural heritage in New York City. After downloading the app, users can simply hold up their mobile phones and view archival photos layered on top of the images visible through the phone’s camera. The mobile experience also features archival documents, photographs and multimedia narratives to bring U.S. history to life. It allows users to create a custom walking tour via GPS and access multimedia content. Finally, users can add their own stories to the German Traces webpage. More than 19,000 people visited the website in the year since launch.

WEBOOKS, Genesee Valley Educational Partnership School Library System, Le Roy, N.Y.

Genesee Valley addressed two needs of rural schools with its crowd-sourced WEBOOKS: improved access to digital content and a way to do this at a time of devastating budget cuts. The library system created a Drupal website that allowed librarians across 22 school districts to pool together a portion of their individual library materials aid while maintaining control over spending through a participatory selection process. By purchasing together, the system was able to buy more e-books than each would have been able to afford individually, and the project demonstrated to administrators that the libraries are working together to find creative solutions. Several districts provided additional funds because of the promise of the project.

Right Service at the Right Time, Orange County Library System, Orlando, Fla.

OCLS’ Right Service at the Right Time (RS/RT) mobile-optimized website addresses a growing need in public libraries to aid library patrons seeking government assistance, which increasingly is accessible only online. RS/RT uses a database-driven decision-making engine to connect people in need of government and non-profit public services with the appropriate provider. Need areas addressed include family assistance, healthcare, housing, jobs and transportation. The site was based on feedback from users who access the Internet solely with mobile devices, and it currently offers four language versions. In 2012, the service expanded from five to 36 Florida counties, and it had more than 10.3 million total page views.

Guide on the Side, University of Arizona (UA) Libraries, Tucson, Ariz.

With the launch of Guide on the Side, the UA Libraries turned 12 years of lessons learned developing e-learning tools into an open-source software package that librarians worldwide can download and use to quickly and easily create online, interactive tutorials based on principles of authentic and active learning. The key: a WYSIWYG interface that reduces or eliminates the need for programming assistance and provides considerable time savings. The UA Libraries have developed more than 25 tutorials using the tool, and these tutorials received nearly 73,000 uses in one year. Other libraries have installed the software, begun creating tutorials and joined a discussion group to continue improving the software.

Mobile Digital Learning Tools, Boston College High School’s (BCHS) Corcoran Library, Boston

The Corcoran Library is “meeting students where they are” through its mobile initiative designed to showcase the library’s online resources through mobile sites and apps optimized for mobile searching. BC High adopted a new cell phone policy that allows students to use their cell phones for research purposes in the library. Librarians orient students to the new mobile resources through the school iPads and the students’ smart phones. The aim is to foster an understanding of how these digital learning tools can enhance student information literacy experiences. The initiative can be replicated by other libraries in schools that are either BYOD (bring your own device) or 1:1 programs by reviewing the library’s website.


Jazzy Wright

Press Officer

American Library Association

Washington Office