Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Technology Innovations for Your Library

Today’s hottest web and mobile technologies are offering libraries a new world of opportunities to engage patrons. Ultra-popular social media websites and apps combined with the availability of affordable cloud-based services and the evolution and adoption of mobile devices are enabling librarians to share and build communities, store and analyze large collections of data, create digital collections, and access information and services in ways never thought about before.

But there is just one question.. How?
It’s not enough to simply redesign the library website. Libraries need to start thinking beyond blogs and start diving into the rich IT content knocking on the doors of libraries. 
Here are 10 ideas for you to leverage today’s most innovative tools and techniques. All of these come straight from The Tech Set #11–20 series.

  1. Host a cloud-based collection

  • Libraries are going digital, thus putting a strain on their already tight virtual storage abilities. 
  • Multimedia collections demand extraordinary precautions to ensure their integrity and preservation (It isn't as easy storing digital content as it seems).
  • Libraries need to provide as much protection for digital object files as possible. Two options are Amazon’s S3 with Amazon CloudFront and DuraSpace’sDuraCloud service.

                  Create a Basic Mobile Website

  • Winksite is an easy-to-use tool that can create a mobile site using an RSS feed from a WordPress content management system, platforms librarians are most likely familiar with already. 
  • The site is free and allows five mobile sites for each user account. Dashboard views and form wizards guide you through the setup of your site. The dashboard features many options for creating different mobile page views and customization. 
  • You can add your library logo, adjust the header colors to resemble your desktop library website, or upload a background image to replace the default white page background.

Start a Location-Based Photo Stream with Instagram

  • Instagram claims more than 80 million registered users who have shared nearly 4 billion photos and their photo's locations. 
  • Libraries can expand social media campaigns and create a visual narrative around events, displays, collections, or projects. For a start, library staff can encourage patrons to snap photos of the library building and their friends at the library with Instagram.
  • Establish hashtags so you can gather a photo-stream from library staff and users around a theme, such as local history or a campus research project. 

Use Crowdsourcing to Create a Collection

  • Crowdsourcing can be used as a great tool for archiving. For instance, that is how the New York Public Library has transcribed and categorized all of the menus in its extensive collection of historical restaurant menus. The What’s on the Menu?” site encourages visitors to help transcribe dish descriptions on menus into a database. 

Use Google Voice to Implement Text Reference

  • Patrons love to text, so why not allow them to text in their reference questions to your library?
  • Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all your phones, saves your voicemail online, transcribes your voicemail to text, and allows you to send free text messages. 
  • Simply enter the recipient’s phone number, type your message, and click “send.” You can use the service to reply by text message to a voicemail, call, or text. 
  • Patrons can respond to your text from their phone, and you can respond from your Google Voice account and browser. Only one librarian can be logged in to the Google Voice account at a time. You can configure LibraryH3lp to route text messages through its interface, where librarians can respond as they would to any other message.

All in all, the big take away from this blog is that technology is out there that can pinpoint specific areas of librarianship that are currently struggling. In the examples above, the use of advanced technology actually brings patrons into the library, and encourages them to actively participate in collection development, and allows their voice to be heard in a way it never has been able to before. So don't be scared of technology, it is there to help us librarians and patrons out to make our libraries even better!

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