Posted tagged ‘technology’


September 15, 2009

I’ve avoided talking about the Cushing Academy bookless library bruhaha thus far.  Mostly this is because there is really nothing that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  But also because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the situation.  The mere thought of a bookless library makes me shudder, but on the other hand libraries really do need to start thinking a bit radically and this certainly qualifies as that.

But now my local paper has gotten into the act, and has associated my library (as well as the nearby Lenox Library) and our budget difficulties with Cushing.  However, Cushing’s decission to turn their library into a techie information center doesn’t exactly speak ill of their budget.  What it does say is the Academy felt the books were being underutilized and that they were desperate to get students in the door.

Now this is a plan that just reeks of desperation.  The original globe article indicates that the library’s books were not circulating (albeit with fairly scant supporting evidence).  But let’s be generous and take this statement at face value.  If the academy is pumping thousands of dollars into a book collection that isn’t justifying that expense, then it’s not too hard to see how they could reach the conclusion that the books should go.  

This is sad, and horrifying, and despicable, but all too understandable.  I’m really hoping that history will eventually show Cushing to have been far too short sighted, but that may not be the case.  And I’ll be really surprised if another library doesn’t follow their example.

Twitter Talk Recap

July 17, 2009

Last night’s talk was a learning experience for me.  I’ve taught a few techie workshops at my library now, and in all the previous instances the attendees came to the class without a great deal of prior knowledge of the subject matter.  Yesterday that was changed up in some very refreshing ways.

First I only had a class of 2.  Seven had signed up, but I was opposite a major thunderstorm and an event downtown.  Both of the people who did show were mostly unfamiliar with twitter, but clearly displayed a knowledge of other social networks on the Internet.  These two elements pretty much caused me to throw my agenda out the window and instead teach according to the flow of the conversation.

I had some really observant questions that I hadn’t prepared for (but should have), the best kind.  For example, once they saw Twitter, one of the people instantly identified that it had no clear revenue stream.  I also got to go off on a fairly long tangent on the difference between Twitter and the status updates in Facebook.  

It’s always nice to have a class that just gets it.

Twitter Talk

July 16, 2009

Once again I have cleverly scheduled one of my computer workshops opposite Third Thursdays here in Pittsfield.  But that’s OK because people have signed up anyway, we’re actually on track for this to be my largest workshop to date.  Very exciting.

But there are still a few seats left.  So people of Pittsfield, the forecast tomorrow is calling for rain, you don’t want to be outside for that.  Instead, come to the Berkshire Athenaeum at 6 p.m. and learn all about Twitter, the hottest site on the internets.

And for any Twitterers out there, I’ll be giving a live demo.  So follow me between 6 and 7 and contribute to the conversation.


July 14, 2009

One of the better library discussions I’ve seen recently ocurred yesterday over Twitter.  The focus of the conversation was whether or not the concept of library 2.0 has been successful.  A lot of the sentiment seems to be that too many librarians are still partially technophobic (also the library 2.0 is merely a rediculous buzzword).

It’s not all cynical, but much of it is, and I can’t really argue with those views from my own experiences.


June 11, 2009

Last night I did something very bad and bought myself an X-Box.  Now the sad part of this is that I didn’t really get it to play games…well not directly at any rate.  

First and foremost I got it for the social environment.  Nearly everyone I know and rarely get to see is on it, so it’s a means of staying in touch.  For a gaming console it makes an incredible social platform.

But then there’s also the professional reasons.  I’ve picked up a reputation as the techy/gamer guy that actually extends beyond my own library.  Sadly this often translates to being a Mac guy which isn’t the case; this week alone I had to bow out of fixing both a MacBook and an IPod.  But I sort of feel forced into being more of a technogeek than I’m comfortable with sometimes because there aren’t enough others interested in steping into the role.  And occasionally that role means I have to buy myself a new toy.

And of course I’ve been wanting to play Gears of War.  Incidentally my gamertag is bibliomane

Power Down

June 3, 2009

So today this happened, leaving us without power for about four and a half hours.  The interesting thing is we stayed open the entire time (the emergency lights were on, the elevator and the alarms still worked).  And people stayed!  It was actually somewhat busy despite the lack of computers, wi-fi, decent lighting, and the ability to check out books.

But it was an even odder experience for me as I struggled to find work I could do that didn’t require my computer.  I got desperate and actually tried our typewriter before my brain started working again.  In the end I wound up rearranging our supply closet and cleaning out some old file folders.  I was also twittering quite a bit via my cell just to maintain some connection with the world (yes I am that sad).

But there was at least one other staff member who pulled out a laptop until the battery was drained completely and who at least attempted to tap into a signal from down the street.  We are now totally dependant on technology, and today we were crippled.

Survey Madness Part II

March 10, 2009

Last week I posted about results of our patron recent patron satisfaction survey.  But at that time we hadn’t sorted through the slew of comments we received.  So guess what I’ve been working on for the last few days.

36 pages later we at least have them in some sort of (possibly) useful order.  The comments themselves are definitely interesting.  According to the more frequent comments we’re a great asset to the community, however:

We could do a better job of customer service

We need more parking

We need more/faster computers

We need more dvds/audiobooks/graphic novels/music

and we need to tell people to be quieter in the building

As you might imagine that last one bugs the hell out of me.  Particularly because most of those comments included things like the library should not be a social place and that quite a few of our (noisier) services are inferior uses of the library compared to traditional research.

We spend so much time trying to become a modern library and quite a few patrons seem to want us to resist those changes.  We even had multiple commenters request that we bring back the card catalog!  ARGGGHH!


February 27, 2009

Dave Lankes (via Jenny Levine) has put up the perfect take on pushing for change in libraries.  I actually have nothing else to add to it, it’s good, read the damn thing!

One Step Forward One Step Back

January 7, 2009

Cheers to the FTC for hosting a town hall meeting for the purpose of receiving comments on DRM technologies (via BoingBoing).

On the other hand technology is evil again (via Linda Braun).

Computer Hogs

December 17, 2008

Yesterday I went to a roundtable for the users of our computer management software and was very disappointed to hear a growing anti-youth trend.  Quite a few libraries have instituted polices to curb teens from monopolizing computers.  But what really disturbs me is that their reasons for doing so are because of a feeling that adult activities are more valuable.  And in particular what I heard from a few people were that gaming was the key activity that inspired these feelings.

So, a few things.  One, in my library at least adults use the computers for gaming as much if not more so than the teens.  And while the teens are usually playing various flash games, the adults are hanging out in online casinos, and while we don’t prohibit that it’s hardly the sort of activity we really wish to promote. 

Two, why do teen activities lack value.  I’m pretty sure what we’re talking about here are social networks, games, and other sources of entertainment.  I think we’re now at the point where checking your facebook wall is no different from checking you e-mail, so that’s passed.  I’ve spent plenty of time here talking about the value of gaming, so just search the archives for that one.  And as for entertainment that’s one of our key roles so why treat our computers different from the rest of our collections.

All we’re doing here is ostracizing our teens, who we’re supposed to be attracting to the library.  And this happens all the time, I’ve heard some murmurs in my own library from staff members that during our video game nights there are too many teens wandering around.  That’s a good thing isn’t it?  We want them to use the library, and we get that by making them feel welcome, not treating them like second class citizens.