iPad in my library

I’m lucky enough to be working in a great library.  Last June the library director, Marit Gro Berge, approved a project to give an iPad to all librarians working the reference desk. I was given the task of setting up and instructing the staff in how to use the iPads.

Here is an edited google-translation of a norwegian language blogpost I did on this project:

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Lindås library is a very exciting place to work nowadays. Library director  Marit Gro Berge is heading the project “the desk free library” and focus on readers advisory and a library that meets the users in a new and more inclusive way.  I got the job of finding technological solutions that can support the project.

We decided to give everyone who worked at the public library, librarians and others, an iPad. Our main goal was that the employees should be online and available anywhere in the library space.

- Free range librarians
The main idea to give everyone who works out of the library iPad was that we wanted to be more “free range” and avoid being locked to the desk and to have access to our most important tools, search the catalog and online in general. Unlike laptops  a tabletPC, e.g.  iPad, allows the user to hold and use without being bulky and difficult. Thanks to the wireless network throughout the library space, we always have access no matter where we are. We also wanted to prepare the ground for the reading of ebooks among staff in the library. (note: Norwegian language ebooks published in Norway are still not available through public libraries due to restrictions from publishers) We wanted experience both with reading and the technical installation and downloading. iPad is the most widely used platform for e-books among the multi-function tablet machines.

- Choice of technical solution – iPad2
We chose iPad2 after a series of considerations. The first was simply the type of hardware that is best suited to carry around in the library. Laptop PCs with keyboards, including netbooks, was dropped due to the limited extent it is possible to use without having to sit down and have a surface to put it on. When we had first arrived at desicion that tabletPCs was the solution we had the choice between iPad,  Android based Tablet PCs like the  GalaxyTab, and windows based machines. As I have tried all three types in my previous job I could advise on the pros and cons of all three. We eliminated the Windows machines first. Windows is too complex in relation to our needs  and they are less suitable as ebook reader platforms.  So the choise  were between iPad2 and GalaxyTab.  We wanted an operating system that was safe and provided staff with less experience with technology the opportunity to try out for themselves without any demands for technical knowledge. I believe that Apple’s iOS deliver this. For people with a desire for higher technical control Android may be a better choice. The highest threshold was that each employee had to install iTunes on their personal computer, and create the account and enter personal and credit card information. We discussed this in advance and there was no opposition to this. In other institutions, you can either find other solutions, or choose  Android. We also have chosen to keep the iPads completely outside the local municipal network. These machines are logged in to the open wireless network at the library.

- Installation and training
We got the machines first week in August and have spent time in training the staff in the use and selection of applications (apps) that we believe is best for our use. Initially, we concentrated on finding web sites we need to have quick access to and add them as icons on the home screen. We have also begun to look at ebook apps and have added free PDF-based ebooks in the iBooks app to gain experience with it. We started with “the reader-friendly library service ” that has been translated and published by the Norwegian national library.

- Practical experience so far
I have used my iPad on three reference shifts now. It has worked beyond all expectations.  Surprisingly for some of library users who come into the library, it goes without saying that the librarian has information ready on his arm wherever he is in the library, while others (especially young adults) think it’s interesting and commented positively that this was cool. It has been liberating to wander around to find literature and always have the OPAC available, and be able to follow leads and adjust the course along the way, and not at least find information on topics not covered in our own collection.  Many of the staff are still on the trial stage when it comes to using the iPad while they are out in the library room, but all are positive and work with training and testing. I have been surprised by how well suited the iPad has been in relation to the needs I see in reference work.

- The way forward
Next step is to find useful applications. Already we have discovered that Google Maps is great to show the way when tourists and others come in to ask about directions to sights adresses in the vicinity.
I see too that we can use iPads actively when we promote ebooks. Then we can at least show off the books to the curious.
We will replace our integrated library system in October, from Aleph to Mikromarc 3.  We see this as an opportunity to customize the system to a tablet-friendly format. Hope we get a good dialogue with our vendor about this.

The conclusion after two weeks is entirely positive. The only objections we may well have to iPad is that each machine is linked to an employee if you cannot establish institutional accounts on iTunes. I think this may be a good thing because it promotes a stronger ownership of the machines.

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Sorry about the crappy language, but at least now you can read about what we have done:-)
Posted in E-books, Future

Why did you become a librarian?

“I love to read!” Is the most common answer to the question of why you became a librarian. Sometimes longtime librarians sigh a little at this and start going on about how libraries are about so much more than books and reading these days.

That is correct, but stop a minute and think about what a love of reading and books imply.

1. Reading opens the mind. Avid readers are more open to new impressions and have a wider view of the world.

2. Readers can concentrate. In an age where the attention span of most people are on the downswing it is a desirable trait to be able to concentrate and follow a whole novel to the end.

3. Readers are information seekers. If you love reading (or are reading dependent) you have to start looking for new books and authors pretty soon. This leads to reading of reviews, looking at genres and in general developing habits of searching out information about books and authors that are useful in many situations in life and work.

4. Reading is social. This comes as a surprise to most, but think about it. Yes the act of reading itself is solitary, but the minute you have finished a good book, what do you most want to do? Talk about it to anybody willing to listen. We have book clubs, bookblogs, book prizes, author events, literary lunches etc etc… – this is a good thing to have in your portfolio when you applies for a number of jobs. The ability to talk enthusiastically about something is usually a plus when you apply for jobs.

5. Analytical ability. To read you have to decode text and meaning. Pretty useful when you want to understand and learn.

Useful stuff for librarians right? So I have come to the conclusion that I DO want readers as librarians and other staff in my library.

I know that what I have listed are unevenly distributed among readers, but it is only my opinion and experience, not research, so I’ll let it stand:-)

Feel free to argue in the comments.

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Posted in Future, Librarian 2.0, Library 2.0

Top five TED talks for librarians

Inspired by the brilliant Library blog Agnostic, maybe who made a list of top five TED talks that librarians should watch, I wanted to make my own list. Why don´t you do to?

1. Temple Grandin – The world needs all kinds of minds

I am the parent of a child with Aspergers and ADHD which means that this talk means something to me on a personal level, but it also has a great significance for me as a professional librarian. School and public libraries are often the refuge for children who do not fit in at school and in social settings. Libraries are environments where children on the autism spectrum both get a stable and less impression-rich environment and get to persue their interests with people who accept and enourage information gathering and deep diving. By understanding children with special gifts, librarians can do an even better job at making the library a haven for children and young adults who struggle with everyday life and the demands of social interactions.

P.S. Do get the movie about Temple Grandin in your library! And watch it yourself:-)

2. Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves
An innovative look at how children learn and can teach themselves. From a library perspective this is important. Libraries are doing this every day by putting children and tools together, but we need to understand the processes and needs better to do a better job.

3. Taylor Mali – What teachers make
A great slam poet and one of the really powerful ways of showing what importance teachers (and librarians) have on kids lives. Think about this poem the next time somebody looks down their nose at you for choosing a life of public service and powerful infulence in peoples life instead of a life of money.

4. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter …
Another poet. It is amazing how powerful poetry is in this setting. I wonder if all the really booring poetry we read about in school was as powerful when it was written and performed? I wish I was as good as this to make poetry as powerful and alive to the people in my library.

5. Brewster Kahle builds a free digital library
Basically the fundamentals of librarianship in a digital age!

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Posted in Blogging

One month without Facebook and Twitter

On January 26th  it was one month until my tenth anniversary as blogger. This started a train of thougth that mostly was about how my blogging frequency has decreased over the years. Of course it was easy to blame life, but I also noticed that my activity on Facebook and Twitter was pretty high and that much of what I used to post on the blog I now post on Facebook and Twitter. This, plus the nagging feeling that social media had a fragmenting effect on my family life. My head was often elsewhere, thinking about funny or interesting links from friends, or just good status updates from people.

Anyway, I wanted to find out if my blogging frequency would increase if I dropped out of Facebook and Twitter. So I decided to do a small experiment. I would be off Facebook and Twitter for a month, i.e. until my tenth anniversary as a blogger on February 26th. Then I would sum things up in a blogpost and post it on Facebook and Twitter.

First I should say that it was not a total absense of FB in my life. I posted links if there was a “Share on Facebook” button on the page, and I was on FB for the “save libraries day” as well as conference posting from the Bergen Neptune library seminar on February 15th. I also communicated with a few people on Twitter when that was the natural channel.

But the main point for me was to avoid the checking of status updates, the frequent interruptions and the distraction that FB and twitter invites.

I kept a short keyword file for this experience on Evernote and I noticed that the keywords went from negative to postive as time went by. At first my main feeling was one of lonelyness and isolation. I did not know what was happening to my friends and I missed all the cool links and discussions going on. On the plus side was less distractions and more uninterrupted time with my kids. I used my iPad less (is that good or bad mr. Jobs?)

It was more noticeable that I think in “status updates” – when you don´t have a place to post them they keep swirling around in the brain. And “big” things in life feels smaller when they are not shared with others.

When I try to sum this last month up I think that I both came to appreciate the distraction-less time and miss the connectedness that FB and Twitter offers. On balance I think that I will try to be more aware of when and how I use social media and try to limit the time I´m on. But I also learnt the value of the connectedness that social media offers. I see that I get a lot from communicating and just beeing updated.

On the whole I´m not dropping Facebook and Twitter, but it will be easier to take a short break when needed and limit the exposure to social media in my life.

The one thing I did not get, that I hoped for, was more time to blog and more blogposts. I did blog a little more, but less that I expected when I started out on this little experiment.

Now I just have to sum up ten years blogging.

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Posted in Blogging

Thank you Jo Walton


Jo Walton has written my favorite book of 2011 (maybe the whole decade). Among others is not like other books. The number of layers in this book is so great that I will probably have to re-read it several times just to get a general idea.

The really curious thing about this book is that I, a forty-seven year old male boringly normal librarian in Norway, can identify so closely with a fifteen year old magic using welsh girl with a bad leg going to a very british boarding school. It helps of course that Mor (short for Morwenna) is fifteen in 1979, the year I turned 16, and discovers Science Fiction literature in much the same way I did, and with the same fierce need that I had. 1979 was not a good year in the world and not a good year for me. Unlike Mor I was pretty well off in the family department, but was ill at ease in school and the rest of the world. Science Fiction literature both helped me make sense of the world and catch a glimpse of a greater side to my own existence than what I saw in a norwegian suburb just before the turn of the decade. 1979 was a year I have avoided thinking about for a long time and at first I was reluctant to revisit this part of my life, but Jo Walton manages to make the whole experience so much more human and understandable than I would have been able to myself. So now I am actually able to look back on this year with a fonder eye than I would have had on my own. Thank You, Jo Walton, for giving me back this period of my life.

The descriptions of the discovering of new books and new authors, reading and discussing Science Fiction resonates really well with how I remember it for myself. This joy of discovery is rarer these days, but I can still experience it, as I do now with Among others (which Cory Doctorow reviews so much more competently than I can).

The other thing  Jo Walton does better than any author I have read, is to  blend magic with the world as we know it. The understated yet immensly vital part of the book that magic plays is in how Morwenna handles the conflict between her everyday life in a world where magic is fiction, and her own use of magic to fight her evil mother and preserve what she loves.

I am unable to do the wonderful language in this book justice, but I want to say that it certainly is a great part of why I now have a new top five book in my life.

Posted in bookblogging

First post from Galaxy Tab

We have aquired a Galaxy Tab at work and this is the first blogpost I write on it.  I have paired it with an Apple wireless keyboard via Bluetooth (yes I appreciate the irony ¦-) ) and use the WordPress app for  Android.

The Galaxy tab is in itself a really nice piece of hardware. I like the size (7 inch screen)  which makes it a lot more comfortable   to use in sofa and while standing.   I suspect that there will be moments when I would like a larger screen, but so  far that has not been an issue.

I have an android phone at work and  one privately, so I am familiar with the Android OS. I really like the multitasking and the range of apps. I have not encountered any problems when using the GT and enjoy the experience. I have both used it as an ebook reader, both the Kindle for Android app and other ebook apps, and  enjoyed the experience so much that I really must admit that I prefer the GT as a reading platform to the Kindle. This came as a total surprise to me as I  have loved my Kindle (and still do). but the reading experience is great and it is nice to have a device that can do other things that display text.

All in all I think the GT has a great future as an alternative to the iPad and look forward to seeing what will come in the future.

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Posted in Library 2.0

Internet Librarian 2010 day 2 keynote speaker Hazel Hall

Hazel Hall - getting real about social media

What we are not going to do is as important as what we are going to do.

Clay Shirky – Cognitive surplus

Social media are not an alternative life, they are part of it

How social media can influence life. Finding people to talk to on the train with twitter. Facebook updates in a family that lives far away from each other.

Information + People

Library and Information Science Research Coalition

To what extent are we genuinly engaging with library stakeholders?

a) Social media currently provide additional platforms for traditional information delivery

b) Sophisticated personal professional application of social media demonstrates potential for further innovation in services.

c) How we concieve relationships will dertermine the boundaries of service innovation

New Knowledge happens at the boundaries – meeting people with different background

Long term effects of social media difficult to predict

Social media is “just another” techonology application

We still dont know the effects of the printing press

Our tools cannot keep up with the quantity of information

Example: Wikipedia as a site of breaking news

Twitter accpetance – five stages: denial, presence, dumping, conversing

Snapshot of 2010 research – pockets of sophisticated personal professional use

Library services delivery: Function, not tool

The search principle blog

Virtual refence

current awareness on twitter – twinforming – not tweeting, just putting out information

Where is user participation as opposed to consumption? The Question of the Day!

New forms of interatcion – example – Facebook Geek the Library

We are all part of the reality: develop our users – develop ourselves

Umar Ruhi, PhD: http://www.umar.biz

We steward – we accept flux&beta – we collaborate

Tactics vary: Networked cells vs. conventional action amonst large groups

Develop stakeholder participation: lead communities

They (users)  are here (in the library) with mobiles and wireless

They do it because it is useful – because humans like making and sharing things

Changed her mind about following on twitter – from strategic following to a more open approach – use lists to organize, increase peripheral vision and understanding context

For interacting with students – Facebook rules

Biggest risk? Missing the boat!

 

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Posted in Conferences
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