Friday, April 15, 2011

Technology, Book Browsing, and the Interactive Library

Southbank Booksphoto © 2010 Thomas Abbs | more info (via: Wylio)
Two articles in the American Libraries March/April 2011 issue have my wheels turning: Jason Griffey's "CES: The Librarian's Takeaway" and Meredith Farkas's "Let's Not Borrow Trouble" .
I am in the middle of reorganizing my collection and I am seriously considering a few major shakeups like shelving fiction by genre and nonfiction by subject instead of Dewey. I want to make the library easily accessible to my students. No matter how many lessons I give on Dewey and browsing they are still confused which tells me that instead of spending time trying to change them maybe I need to change how I organize the library. I don't know what the consensus is in the library community, but I have to make decisions about this with my students in mind.
These two articles spoke to me in regards to these decisions. Griffey's article describes some of the gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show and how they relate to libraries. The gadgets mentioned made me think about how I can make my library more interactive and accessible. Griffey says "Experiences become expectations." Our students are accustomed to technology, gadgets and personalization and expect this type of experience in the library. I have made small steps in this direction by having a digital frame that shows slides of book covers and videos of book trailers as well as posting QR codes and having QR code lessons, but I have a long way to go.
Farkas discusses the issues that need to be considered as our e-book collections grow. One issue that really stood out to me was the issue of browsing an e-book collection. Let's face it, we judge books by their covers, but ebooks are difficult to browse in this way. We have Kindles, iPods and iPads that we use with our students. My low tech solution to browsing e-books has been using Power Point to create visuals of the book covers and summaries of the books that are on display. I recently created a visual poster using Glogster for our state junior book award nominees that included book covers, podcasts and links to author web pages. This is more interactive, but still not the easiest solution for our students' browsing habits.
After reading these articles the question in my mind is: How can I use technology to make browsing easier for my students?
Here are a few ideas that I have considered:
  • QR Codes: Using a smartphone or iPod students can scan the QR codes on books to listen to book talk podcasts or visit author or book web pages. I did this with our state book award nominees and posted about it here. I could post QR codes at Dewey sections or genre sections to help students learn about the collection's organization.
  • Smart Pens: Book talks can be built into the book with a Livescribe pen. Read the post describing how to do this on The Daring Librarian's spectacular blog.
  • KINECT technology: After seeing KINECT used to create interactive window displays in stores I really want to try this in the library. It would be awesome to have an interactive display that allowed students to explore genres, holiday or event displays like Banned Books, or programs and promotions like reading contests.
  • Augmented reality: This technology is growing rapidly and I see loads of potential for libraries. Most people thing this is really complicated, but one common use of this is the yellow first down line when you watch football on TV. Apps could be created that allow students to flag their favorite books, recommend books to their friends through the app and librarians could put markers and guides throughout the collection. The student would look at the shelf through the smart phone or iPod device and see the notes and markers created in the app. These apps could translate signs into other languages like the Word Lens app. This would allow easier browsing for our non English speaking students. You can even use them to create virtual objects. To promote that new fantasy book you could have a dragon perched on the shelf where the book is housed. There is already an app that could help in shelving books.
What ideas do you have for using technology to make browsing easier for your students?

1 comment:

  1. Love the ideas shared here. I, too, use the digital picture frame and have been toying with the QR code idea (now that we have an iPod grant w/ 120 iPods our kids can use).

    I'm not interested in removing Dewey, though. High school kids grasp the concept (and learn where to find what they want) easily enough that I don't need to "subject" my sections - as essentially that is what Dewey does! Also, where do you put books like Twilight? It crosses genres. I get a headache thinking about having to decide what genre to put books into instead of just leaving all books in alpha order. Instead, I have bookmarks and flyers that have "If you like ___ try ___" on different "genres' to help kids find books they like. These would make great QR code tools, too! Thanks for giving me something to think about over the summer!