Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Shhhh, Turn of Your Phone!

James Clay starts his session by encouraging us all to turn on all of our devices, say hello to the person sat next to us and generally have a conversation. How nice :-) He lives online at elearningstuff.net - I'd recommend you check it out if you haven't been there before.

The first mobile phone call (from a car) was made in June 1946! This is not a new technology, we have lived with them for a long time. The first proper handheld mobile phone call was made on April 3rd 1973. It has only been in the last couple of years that we have really begun to exploit the potential of mobile devices. The i-pad sold 14 million units in the first 9 months of its life - mobile is everywhere.

James goes on to show how all new developments have been treated with scepticism (and btw gives an excellent way of how to actually give a 'history of' at a conference). The 'evil' slate, pen, calculator have all been criticised. We do things because they have always been done that way - resistance to change is normal. So we put up signs that say don't use your phones (or don't swim) to try and control change - but what problems to phones *actually* cause in a library?

The Culture of NO is a big problem in libraries today. When you see a big sign saying DO NOT, it is human nature not to respect it. It is much better to talk to learners and help them respect their environment rather than dictate and direct. A YES culture is a much better place to be.

So what CAN we do with mobile devices in the library?? My contributions are some fantastic ideas from thewikiman and Jo Alcock. Other ideas:
  • Use the web. Sounds obvious, but very necessary. Unfortunately, there are very few journal or eBook platforms that are well developed for browsing on phones, or even small notepads.
  • eBooks!
  • Communication.
  • Collaboration. AudioNote is a great example of tools that can be used in this way.
  • QRCodes - dotted around the library to provide extra information.
  • Augmented Reality - layering information over images within the library. It's a great way to UpSell the resources.
  • Barcode Scaners - scanning a barcode of a book in WHSmiths to see if it is in the library.
  • Making Notes - such as tools like EverNote.
  • Using tools like Google Googles to find more information about a statue, a picture, a resource.
It is of course, not that simple. In FE there are significant concerns about safeguarding and the permanency of the web. This is often used as an excuse - James describes the role of the Innovation Prevention Department, a well known department in all academic institutions!

Cost is a real issue. Mobile should be about enhancing the service you already provide, it should not be exclusive and discriminatory to those who cannot afford expensive devices. James also bravely states that eBooks will never replace real books :-)

The digital divide is a real issue (a la Andy Powell's talk this morning). As is connectivity (conference wifi anyone?). The pace of change also makes it difficult for libraries to keep up with changing devices, skilling staff etc. Prioritising is an important focus here.

Despite all of these issues, James is a clear believer in using mobile devices in libraries - and he encourages us all to think about just one way in which we could too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I'm in a library I'm there to read and study not listen to somebody talking on a mobile phone. If they had manners then they would make the call before or after they visited the library.
Manners maketh man.

5:19 pm  
Anonymous Jo Alcock said...

Thanks very much for the mention - I was reading as I'm interested in the topic, so was a lovely surprise to see a link back to my blog posts :)

I'm really excited about some of the developments in terms of using mobile devices to support library services. I'll be presenting about this topic at the CoFHE conference later this year and I'm really pleased there's so much interest in it - such great potential!

7:13 pm  

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