Highlights from the Handheld Librarian Online Conference
Posted by Denise O'Shea on August 3, 2009
Last Thursday, I was fortunate to attend a broadcast of the Handheld Librarian Online Conference next door at the College of Saint Elizabeth’s Mahoney Library. Some sessions were better than others, but overall the conference was worth attending. The topics discussed included mobile library and medical applications for handheld devices (iPhones, Blackberries, smart phones, etc.), eBook readers including the Kindle, Twitter for libraries, chat and text reference, and much more. Here is a brief summary of my notes from this meeting (most of the links to websites & tools mentioned here can be found on my delicious page).
- The keynote speaker talked about how innovative the medical world has been in developing mobile apps. for doctors, nurses and medical librarians. This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart as I used to be a trainer for the PubMed mobile app — PubMed on Tap.
- Next, he mentioned that Duke University has made 20 of its digital archives (over 30,000 images!) available as an iPone app. They have a video on Youtube.
- He talked about the Kindle and mentioned some very useful eBook sites. He also suggested that for those of us on Facebook, we join the Facebook Group titled ‘EBook Readers in Libraries’. He also recommended that we look at the Kindle Review Blog, and at a website put together by the University of Iowa that compares the different types of smart phones that are out there.
- With regards to the Kindle, there was some talk about the Kindle being the future of ILL, mainly because one can download books on demand (not textbooks).
- Of course he talked about Twitter. A good intro to Twitter is an article by Sarah Milstein called “Twitter for Libraries (and Librarians)”. The article is available here. He also recommended that we look at the Twittering Libraries Wiki.
- WorldCat mobile application demo on YouTube.
- The speaker directed us to this blog, which contains a abstract of an article titled “SMS Library Reference Service Options”.
Panel Discussion on Kindles
A group of librarians from libraries (both public and academic) that loan Kndles to patrons discussed some of the issues with this service.
- Staff must be trained in the basics of using Kindles and must be able to demo the devices to patrons. It also helps to have handouts to give to patrons that describe how to turn the devices on and off, how to navigate an ebook, how to increase the text, etc.
- They also talked about managing Amazon accounts, downloading books, cataloging issues, circulations policies, durability, statisitics, and promoting the service.
Launching a Text a Librarian Service
- Next, a panel of librarians form Cornell discussed launching a text a librarian service at the university using a tool called Mosio.
- They warned that librarians need to be prepared for the lack of a reference interview/dialog with users using this medium.
- Security is a an issue, as is privacy, how quick to respond, marketing, reporting, implementation and support.
- Types of questions ranged from — hours & directions, circulaton, equipment (do you have a scanner?), resources (do we have it? how to use it?), course-related questions (these tend to be more complex and require an emailed answer), anonymous complaints about the library (‘the quiet room is not really quiet!’).
Academic Library Panel
This is the last session that I attended. A group of librarians from NYU and other institutions offered their tips for SMS service:
- Publicize the library’s cell phone number by putting it everywhere
- Pair more and less experienced librarians to work together with the technology
- Keep messages short
- People are always willing to wait for a while
- Keep a log of questions and answers but safeguard patron privacy
- SMS attacts a different type of interaction with a different set of users
- Promote it in BI sessions, posters around campus, table tents in the cafeteria, mouse pads
- Keep a binder of shorthand language