Tag Archives: technology

It’s Coming: The Bookless Public Library

Bexar County, home to San Antonio Texas, is going to develop a bookless library system with the first branch opening in the fall. The county system will operate side-by-side with San Antonio system, which has physical books.

Bexar County’s BiblioTech library system won’t have a legacy of paper. It’ll be designed for, not adapted to, the digital age, Wolff said.

I applaud this effort on the face of it, but I think questions linger.

It all appears a bit premature to me. Even if the long term trajectory is for paper books to go extinct, I don’t think we are anywhere near that reality now. Users still read a lot of paper books, whether from preference or the affordability of eReaders and tablets. Also, a bookless library seems unconcerned with children’s literacy. I am not sure what the plan is for BiblioTech, but I am skeptical that any collection of ebooks or tablet apps will beat a large collection of children’s material. Finally, publishers are still not 100% behind giving access to their ebooks to libraries. This leaves a gigantic short fall in the coverage and availability of titles for any aspiring bookless library.

However, the fact that the Bexar County system will be operating in the same community as the San Antonio City Library system may answer some of these questions. They will be catering to those who primarily wish to do research on a computer or don’t mind checking out eReaders with limited amount of books. If users, such as children, need physical books, they can go to the city system. But this would seem to suggest that any bookless library couldn’t operate without access to a traditional library.

The first branch to test out the idea will be opened on the south side of the city. This is explained as an attempt at:

providing them a service that anybody else that has money would have..

Attempting to bridge the digital divide, in other words. This is also to be praised. Those in the library profession are acutely aware of the need to expand access to computers and the internet. In fact, this may be the best reason to open such branches. I could envision future library systems with large branches that still have physical books and satellite branches that only have computers and digital collections. It may be cheaper to open several digital branches as opposed to developing a physical collection for one smaller branch.

An intriguing experiment and I will be interested in its progress when the first branch opens in the fall. I have my doubts, but perhaps its opening will be more prophetic than not.


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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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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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