Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Computers in Libraries: March 22

Conference: Second Day

Ebook Publishers and Libraries: Win-Win Solutions
Led by Canadian librarians, this session was informative but not particularly applicable to me. Canadian libraries have been able to personalize license agreements with ebook publishers due to the Canadian book market, Canadian laws governing book purchasing rules, and the unity of the Canadian libraries. I didn’t get as much from this session because I don’t think American libraries have the unity needed to demand the same terms as the Canadian libraries.
They are doing some really neat stuff up north with ebooks, and I wish American libraries could copy some of their model.

Tinkerers: Maker Culture and Libraries
Maker culture was something that I have never heard of before this conference, so it was particularly interesting. Maker culture is essentially hacker culture: taking existing devices and software and re-appropriating them to meet a specific need. Most of maker culture happens in hacker spaces; maker culture can also be seen as a way to informally learn about technology. The speaker stated that although maker culture started as activists and continues to believe they work against “the man,” many of the hackers are white males, between the ages of 20-40 who make over $100,000 a year. Many of the products that they make can’t be used by the general public and actually have no economic value for their communities. The speaker argued that if libraries got involved, makers/hackers from different communities would be able to work together in their communities in a free access space. By bringing in librarians and libraries, the end products would be better tied to the local communities because it would be the local community members who made them. This talk was so insightful. I’m not sure that it would be something that worked at King, especially due to limitations from other departments, the administration, and space considerations, but it would be cool if it could!
Examples: FabLab (Fayetteville Free Library, MIT), HackDC

Open Source Trends & Migration
I had certain expectations about the session because my library will be migrating to an open source ILS is the next year or two. The first presenter simply read the results of his survey about what library perceptions of open source are. I would have been more interested if he discussed why libraries make the decision to move to open source or stay with a proprietary ILS, but he didn’t cover those topics. One interesting fact that he did share was the number of libraries adopting cloud-based ILSs, like Sierra. I wasn’t aware that this was a trend, or that libraries were considering it.

Integrating Tablets and Apps Into the Library
Hosted by two public children’s librarians and two academic librarians, this session gave me more insight into integrating tablets. At my library, we are interested in purchasing tablets for reference and instruction. Most of the information provided by the public librarians wasn’t especially relevant; they did mention considerations that had not even occurred to me: data privacy and restricting access to features. The academic librarians talked about their decision to get a droid based tablet v. iPads, using the tablets in instruction, and student reactions to the tablets in instruction. Droid was cheaper and open source. The student reaction was actually not overwhelmingly positive; the students were frustrated by the technology and having to learn a new technology on top of learning research skills, and they worried about damaging the tablet. The librarians ran into their own problems: compatibility of browsers, weak wifi, printing considerations, and wiping devices of data. Another big consideration is the importance of staff training on the devices so that they can assist students and other users.

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