Category Archives: General

Tech Games: The Home Stretch

It is the last couple of weeks for the Tech Games. I admit I have worked ahead a bit so I completed most of the exercises a few weeks ago. But, now is the time to sum up the experience.

First: Social networking. This seems to be an underutilized free resource. It is great that we tested it out ourselves, but for future games, it might be worthwhile to give participants additional goals or tasks with them. For example, in addition to creating accounts in Facebook or Twitter, maybe we could interact a little by finding other users who have liked or followed the library.  Maybe a goal could be getting a user to come to the library for an event by communicating with them on Facebook or Twitter.

eBooks are interesting. As a kindle owner, it is a relatively painless activity. After a few clicks (though, this seems like a lot of clicks) the book is delivered wirelessly to my device. For all others, you have to use Adobe Digital Editions on your computer, attach your device and manually transfer the book. WHY?! eBooks should be painless. Any added complexity is a disincentive. Actually, there is an easier solution if you own a tablet or the new Nook HD: the Overdrive APP. With the Overdrive app a user can search the catalog and download a title directly to their device. They also read it using the Overdrive app. If one is not a Kindle owner and has a tablet, this is the preferred method.

The county’s list of online learning courses is pretty extensive and I look forward to learning a few new software programs. Also, the final list of web apps and sites wer very interesting. I picked up a few I hadn’t seen like EarlyWord and Instructables. Instructables is especially fascinating as it is a website of instructions for just about everything. Looking forward to wasting a lot time here.

Overall, techgames was a good experience and worth the time spent dedicated to learning new skills and brushing up on some old ones. I appreciate the Library using games as an incentive for training. I look forward to more.

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Reflecting on Tech Games, thus far

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

This is icon for social networking website. This is part of Open Icon Library’s webpage icon package. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t claim I am learing a lot, but it is good to get a refresher on some things. As stated before, the Tech Games is about half social networking, half county technological resources. As I have blogs, twitter and Facebook accounts, and have tried almost every RSS reader, these activities have been little more than reviewing. The two wrinkles being: 1) most social networks are blocked on county computers, and 2) county computers are equipped with IE 8, which was released in 2009, ancient history in Internet time, and can’t render some of these websites correctly. But one makes do. NewsBlur has been an interesting learning experience. I am a Google fan and I use most of their products, including Google Reader for RSS. NewsBlur was able to pull my feeds from Reader without much hassle. I can’t say that I am impressed. Reader is still a better reader than NewsBlur on the interface side and the fact that NewsBlur only allows you to have 64  feeds (Reader has no limits) is a big turn off. After trying NewsBlur for a couple weeks, I can’t say that I will switch but it has its place.

Where I am learning is with the county’s technological resources. Learning to scan, email, and fax on county equipment is important. Taking the time to learn these things now will save me from figuring them out when I am in a rush to get something done.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see the Channel 16 library video. It was well produced and informative. I was a little disappointed to see that it was the only video from the library and wondered if a regularly updated video highlighting new library resources and services would be beneficial to users.

Tech Games has five weeks left.

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Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits | Pew Internet Libraries

Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits | Pew Internet Libraries.

The library demographic: People aged 16 to 30. This a very positive study for the role of libraries and books in our culture and may also provide clear directions for where to take library services. The most surprising findings is that young people read, they read print books, and are more likely than older people to borrow a book. In fact, 60% of those between 16 and 30 have gone to the library in the past year. The encouraging number is that a majority of Americans feel the library is important, rising to over 70% for age 25 to 49. This is all awesome news, but the question remains how libraries translate these findings into securing services for users and helping users become life time readers and patrons.

One of the more interesting details was the disparity between young and older persons borrowing habits. Young people were more often to borrow, while older users considered buying a sometimes more viable option. For young people, it might be obvious that they don’t have the spending money to buy all the books they want to read, so borrowing is the best option. For older users, though, there was some revealing information on how they make their choice:

“It mainly depends on availability at the library and how badly I want to read the book ‘right now,’” and online panelist told us. “If the queue for the library e-book is too long, I’ll just buy it. If it’s a reference book that I’m only using temporarily, I’ll borrow it, but if it’s something that I foresee needing in the future, I’ll buy.”

See that? If the queue is too long for the eBook, they buy it. With all the eBook hubbub between publishers and libraries this is interesting. It means libraries need to fight more to secure a larger collection of eBooks. The findings do show that only about 12-18% of readers read eBooks in the past year, so it is not an immediate problem. However, libraries should want to be seen as a resource for users long after they have a job and can afford to buy what they want. Helping to build habits and reasonable expectations in young users may be one way of doing this; by associating reading their favorite books with the library users may come to see the library as the first place to go. But this will only happen if young users see the library as more than just a place they do school work and can get free copies of the latest young adult novel. They have to view the library as a positive force in their lives. What this studies illuminates is that libraries have a strong place in the lives of young people. There is an opportunity for libraries to target this group in the hopes of encouraging life long reading and learning and viewing the library as the place where this happens. The question is: how?

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October 23, 2012 · 1:30 pm

Blogging, Tech and Games

A new job. Training. A new blog. I recently startred in my new library position in Fairfax County and have been immersed in county training for several weeks. Now, in the midst of my training, the library has started Tech Games, a series of trainings to help aquaint library staff with the basic technology they will encounter in their work, but also introduce some of the latest social networking trends, such as blogs. Thus, I have started a new blog. I have a perosnal blog already which has fallen into disuse, so I am viewing this as an oppurtunity to start blogging again and to write about what I hope well become a burgeoning career in librarianship.

The games are a great idea and incorporate a lot about what has been discovered about how we humans learn: play, competition, achievement, and reward. I also like how it is capitalizing on the recent trends in social gaming where just about everything we do becomes a game. Google tried to do this with its news feed by giving badges for articles you read. I think that may have been a bit of an over kill and they have recently discontinued badges. However, Tech Games has the real potential help library staff learn about and grow comfortable with technology while having fun. I hope this becomes a yearly activity.

Tasks in the games include updating this blog, so stay tuned. Perhaps by the end of the games this blog well have a clear focus and topic.

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