Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Library Technologies

Description: A blog is a type of website that contains regularly updated entries. The phrase comes from a blend of the terms web and log. Blogs entries are typically updated more often, which gives them an advantage over conventional websites. The most current blog entry is displayed on top with the other entries coming in reverse-chronological order. Blogs are considered easier to create and maintain in comparison to regular websites because the creators do not need to know HTML or how to transfer files to a server using FTP in order to write and publish their blogs. Blogs also implement the use of other newer technologies such as RSS and Podcasting.

Library Use: There is a wide variety of ways that a library can implement blogs. One way is as a source of news updates for patrons. This could include information about new books, new computer terminals, or new location hours. Another way libraries can use blogs is as a form of marketing. Blogs are an additional web presence that can promote a library and its services. A third way to use blogs is to help share knowledge and information among patrons and staff. Patrons can ask questions that both library staff and other questions can help answer. A fourth way libraries can use blogs is as a community service to promote outreach programs. The blog can serve as a gathering place for links to other clubs and organizations offering services that patrons would be interested. Finally, libraries can use their blogs as a source of internall news that staff would find useful such as work schedules or new library policies.

Social Impact: Blogs can serve to strengthen the bond and interactions between patrons and their library. However, in order to stay relevant in a world where the instant updates of Facebook and Twitter dominate, blogs will need to be able to adapt. Perhaps setting up a Twitter account and then tweeting whenever a new blog entry is posted will help libraries keep their blogs connected with their patrons.

Description: RSS originally stood for RDF Site Summary, but now it is more often called Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a type of web feed that that shows updated works such as news headlines or blog entries. The RSS feed creates an XML page of the content that can then be read by multiple outlets. Through a news reader, such as Google Reader, users can subscribe to the RSS feeds of their favorite websites. Then instead of having to visit each site separately to check for updates, user log into their readers where they are presented with a list of new articles or blog entries. RSS feed subscriptions can even be customized. On the RSS feed page of the AZ Central website (http://www.azcentral.com/help/articles/info-rss.html), users can choose to have only certain topics, such as dining reviews or UA sports, included in their subscriptions. Most websites have an orange icon somewhere on their page if they have an RSS feed. Users click on the icon and save that website to their chosen news reader.

Library Use: Libraries can use RSS feeds on their blogs to inform patrons of when new entries have been posted. With thousands of blogs currently in existence, a library blog can be easily forgotten in lieu of more exciting blogs. Having a news reader periodically check for new feeds from the library blog can help to keep the blog’s web presence relevant for the library’s patrons.

Social Impact: A few years ago, RSS feeds were a great way to keep users alerted to new entries on their favorite blogs. This type of technology may need to reinvent itself in order to remain viable. The RSS feed can remain the same, but the associated news readers would do better if they used real-time alerts. News readers should create cellphone applications so that users can be immediately alerted when a site they subscribe to has been updated. Many celebrities continue to keep themselves in the spotlight because of their real-time updates on Facebook and Twitter. News readers will need to create a similar presence if their RSS feeds are going to stay relevant.

Adaptive Technologies
Description: Adaptive Technology is a term used for a group of different devices used for people with disabilities.  These devices help individuals access and interact with technologies that they would otherwise be unable to, or have great difficulty, working with.

Library Use: There is a wide variety of ways libraries implement adaptive technologies. One way is through audio books that help individuals with visual impairments. Digital screen readers, screen magnifiers, and speech-to-text programs can be installed on public computer terminals throughout the library to help patrons with visual impairments. Easily accessible computer work areas are ways that libraries can adapt for individuals with physical disabilities. Many companies are making computer workstations that have teachnologies that would be useful for a wide variety of different disabilities.

Social Impact: Libraries that make their resources available to all patrons are having a positive affect on their whole community.  If patrons are able to access all the resources that their library has to offer, regardless of their disability, then those patrons can continue to educate themselves on many different topics.  A well-informed citizenry is a boon to any community.

Decription:RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and its use dates back to World War II. It was initially used to identify between allied and enemy aircraft. RFID technology uses both microchips and radio waves. An electronic tag, or RFID tag, is placed somewhere on an item. In books, it is often attached to the inside of the back cover. Radio waves emitted from a nearby antenna are used to activate the tag. A reader then reads the stored data from the tag in order to identify and track that particular item. Unlike more traditional bar codes, RFID tags can be read from a distance and do not need to be in the direct line of site of the tag reader.

Library Use: Many libraries are switching from bar codes to RFID tags. There are many benefits to using RFID tags over other traditional methods. RFID tags can significantly improve the speed and efficiency in which library books are checked-out, checked-in, shelved, and inventoried. RFID tags make self-checkout a very real possibility. Traditional scanners and bar codes required library staff to operate them. With RFID tags, self-checkout stations can be set up eliminating the need for library staff involvment. This, in addition to the ability for multiple RFID tags to be scanned at once, speeds up the check-out process. Removing the need for library staff also offers library patrons more privacy with the items they check-out. RFID tags can also speed up the checki-in process. A tag reader can be built into book return bins to automatically check-in materials as they are deposited. More sophisticated systems could even sort materials as they enter the bin based on the RFID tag information. Can serve as theft-deterrence in place of “tattle tape”.

Social Impact:  RFID tags can provide valuable information on the use of particular items in terms of how often those items are checked out. This information can help libraries determine what resources are in demand in that community. RFID tags also make the check out process of the library easier for patrons and it grants them some privacy in what they check out. Patrons don’t have to worry about library staff seeing what materials they are checking out. These reasons may promote library use, keeping library’s a relevant part of society. However, in an increasingly electronic world, less and less is being checked out from the library. How long will these tags be needed?

Best Technologies
RFID tags are the technology that will most improve libraries for librarians. For librarians, RFID tags will free them from having to do many tasks that they were previous involved in. RFID tags make self-check out a viable option. Librarians are no longer needed to staff the check-out desks. They can instead be focused on other tasks. RFID tags also make checking in books, sorting them for shelving, and doing inventory much more efficient. 

Blogs are the technology that will most improve libraries for patrons. Library-run blogs can have a huge impact on the way patrons think about and access their library. Many patrons may be unaware of the huge variety of resources offered by libraries. To some, libraries are a place to check out books and that is it. Blogs can help show patrons that libraries offer classes and trainings on many different subjects. They can point them in the direction of valuable services in the community. The library’s blog can alert patrons to special events are the library that they may be interested in. Overall, blogs will help to create a tighter relationship between patrons and their libraries.

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