Thursday, May 16, 2002

Librarians as Early Adopters of Technology!

Hi. There has been some interesting action on the list, so I want
to share it here, so those that only read the web page will catch it too.
Thanks to the lastest issue Free Pint which
listed the Handheld Librarian in an article on blogs.

Scott Adams, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at Arkansas
Tech University, has suggested two more terms for the pda glossary.
Thanks, Scott!
SD Card = A removable expansion card about the size of a postage stamp.. It may be used for memory or other devices.

Sled = An expansion device that clips to the back of a handheld computer.
Kathleen Meiners Branch Manager at Orange County Library System, Alafaya Library
in Orlando Florida asks if any public libraries are using handhelds to assist with reference
in a public library setting. Her library is beginning to use them for catalog searches and
web searches away from the reference desk. I have not heard of many public libraries
using handhelds. Tell us more about what you are doing, Kathleen! This is great. If you
share what you are doing, I will post it here.
Librarians as Early Adopters of Technology

Even if you are not a librarian who loves technology, gadgets, and gizmos, you
are probably at least a year or two ahead of the customers you serve in terms
of overall knowledge of technology and its applications which includes knowing how
to use google and to use the Internet to locate information. I was thinking about this
last night and talking to my colleagues at work about it over the last year or so.

Librarians, even those who don't like technology, are usually better versed and acquainted
with the possibilities of technology than the general or even a specialized clientele. Here
is an example. Yesterday, I was working with a medical resident who wanted something
in layman's terms to help explain a spider bite (yes, a spider bite! - no the customer didn't
think he was Spiderman!) and the symptoms of the bite. We looked in the usual excellent
medical database tools for some patient handouts and then we went to google. This resident,
who was well-versed in searching the most technical of medical databases had never done a
google search! When I explained what google was and what it indexed along with the usual
warnings of inaccurate information, etc. she was thrilled. She did not even know google existed!

Another example is in our pda project we work with a number of residents, doctors, and students
who know three times as much as we do on pdas - (just as many who don't). However, this same
audience has no knowledge of what is involved in putting up a web page. You might argue with
me that not all librarians are web masters. This is true, and I am no longer a webmaster either,
even though I'd like to think I have some skills. However, even librarians who are not webmasters
are generally acquainted with the general knowledge to know the basics involved in putting up
a web page.

Why all this blather? This is an exciting profession to be in! Librarians are early adopters of new
technology and should use this for all it is worth. When I think about technology trends, and their
first implementation in the library field, it seems like the early implementers are about 3 years ahead
of the general ground swell of acceptance. The early implementers are those who love technology and
push it to its limit to make it work for the library applications. Usually, the average library picks up
on this technology application 1-2 years later if it is a good one, and the general public another year
or two later. I think that handheld/wireless technology will pick up for the general public in about 2 years
and libraries need to be ready to deal with it, be ahead of the curve, and be knowledgeable about
the possibilities. It is just impossible to keep up with every single nuance of what 's happening,
but with groups like this, and The Shifted Librarian,
librarians can be aware of the trends, the successful applications, and think about
how they can be used in the library.

Librarians have always been teachers and trainers. However, in a world where technology is changing
so quickly and even teen agers cannot keep up with every single technology application, librarians
can use their skills in keeping abreast of a variety of topics (which they have always done) to help
people learn how to use it and to find and evaluate information.

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