Saturday, April 12, 2008

Computers in Libraries 2008

I was really impressed with the first keynote speaker, Jane Dysart. She gave a prophetic view of libraries as problem solvers. That said, the Pew Charitable Internet and American Life Project, presented by Lee Rainie, showed the responses of libraries by age and ethnicity, and the use of the Internet to solve financial, health and education and other personal issues during the last 5 years. The next keynote speaker on the second day spoke of libraries as places of happiness. Taking a leaf from Dysart, R.I.T. librarian spoke at the end of the conference on how gaming gave the sense of accomplishment through friendly avatars and awards. She commented that games should be widely known as "productive games" not "serious games".

Once programs opened up, I attended "What do Users do in their Native Habitat?" the first morning of the conference. I listened to librarians from Guelph University plainly drawing the relationships students made with libraries and online access, and how Delft's librarians felt that the undergraduates emphasized searching subjects in print or specialized directories and left the high technology for social networking. Students felt very frustrated when urged to use high tech in research assignments and were reluctant to share assignments and work online.

The second set of programs on Tuesday involved the use of blogging and social networking. I found it useful to create yahoo pipes and widgets on our home page. Widgetbox is an excellent and free online tool to add small software applications, links and feeds to the library homepage. No computer language is needed and the expertise from technical standpoint is not needed to add a widget to a page. Binghamton University has an example of how widgets help users gain access to the library catalog and other resources on their Facebook account. Similar to wikis, the facebook account allows posting, but you may also ask a librarian for help anytime.