Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blog Post 2: Handheld Devices

The article itself was quite outdated with many technologies that either do not exist or have been greatly upgraded in the last thirteen years. Even still, Richards (2002) makes a few good points that are still relevant today.

The article discusses e-books first and foremost. They were in their infancy at the time the article was written and are far more relevant for today's librarians. Richards discusses using either e-book catalogs or infrared kiosks in order to help patrons locate these non-physical books.

Today, however, e-books are overtaking physical books for many people as they are far more accessible. With Nooks, Kindles, or even free Kindle apps for phones or tablets, it's easy to download and read electronic books without ever leaving the house. The advantage for an electronic book library would be, of course, the price. Offering free rentals from online selections with a library card will benefit many patrons who might not be able to afford constantly buying new e-books.

The article also discusses a program known as "Portrait" that allows video conferencing. Richards says this could be used for reference librarians to ask or answer questions without having to go to another location.

Today, Portrait is far more well known by its modern predecessors, Skype and FaceTime. Almost everyone has at least one of these free programs on their phones, tablets, or computers. People can use these to contact the librarians to ask reference questions. A modern library can use it for an Ask A Librarian feature of the website or maybe even video conference a famous author or artist who cannot travel the library but would be willing to talk to an audience via long distance calling for free.

The final note to discuss from the article is that librarians or library staff will need to be trained in the technology. Richards states that libraries need to hired already trained staff in order to work these areas, especially if libraries want to continue forward to be a great resource for upper education.

This idea continues to hold true today. Perhaps many older librarians are wary of upgrading to modern technologies because of the learning curve, or perhaps there isn't enough money in the budget to hire staff who are equipped to work with this technology. However, if libraries want to continue to be relevant and important in the education of modern society, they need to upgrade their technology and how they present their information.

Other vital handheld devices not discussed in this article include tablets/iPads and cell phones, as both were not around as they are today at the time this article was written. Many libraries use tablets these days in fun ways, like using their video cameras to film short movies with youth groups. Cell phones, if used properly, could also be vital to the success of modern libraries. Cell phones today are the books, as many people read from their phones, so a library or catalog app with a list of available e-books or other electronic materials would be a great use to incorporate cell phones (or tablets) into modern library usage.


Richards, S.L.F. (2002). Innovative library uses of handheld devices. Library Hi Tech News, 19(9), 8-9.