ebooks, Google, Libraries, Music, Social Media, Technology

Post Holiday Library Technology Help

Like most librarians in a public library, I am expecting a sizable number of patrons visiting the library after the holidays in search of technology help.  For the last few years, I’ve watched this phenomenon grow a spattering of random technology questions to something that libraries need to plan in advance for.  Luckily, we’re already doing that.  I point to these two awesome examples:


Over the next few days, the Princeton Public Library in Princeton, NJ is having a number of programs focused on helping patrons with their new devices.  The program mentioned above, Help Desk for Holiday Gadgets, is just one of many offerings that the library has to help out their community.  You can click here to see the full list of programs being offered by the Princeton Public Library that focus on post holiday technology help.


The Maine State Library tweeted about their Getting Started with eBooks page and it caught my eye.  If your library can’t have programs like the Princeton Public Library, offering an online walk through will no doubt help out your community.  You can view the full Getting Started with eBooks page here.



The Darien Library in Darien, CT does a great job at throughly collecting technology help resources for you at their eBooks page.  They offer both print and video resources to help you navigate your new devices.  Double bonus points goes to them for offering this digital only catalog: http://digital.darienlibrary.org

And finally, why not give YouTube a try?  There are many public libraries out there utilizing YouTube to share video walk troughs for their community to view.  I really liked this well put together video by the Hennepin County Library.  It is well made and very clear and easy to follow.

In closing, I pose this question: Should public libraries begin to look to next year when there will most likely be even more of a need for technology help?  Should we look to establishing year round technology help departments in our library?

ebooks, Libraries

The end of the eReader debate (for me)

I bought a Kindle because I wanted to use a Kindle to read eBooks.

In my eyes, the Kindle provides a great reading experience.  I like the device and how it works.  I like the ability to highlight quotes, store them, and share them.  I like how it manages books and PDF’s.

It all boils down to happiness.  From now on, I will encourage patrons to buy the eReader that makes them the happiest.  DRM issues, cloud storage, who actually owns the book…all of that stuff has importance, but it should be secondary to happiness and a great reading experience.

To encourage patrons to the eReader that makes them the happiest, I highly suggest programs like this where there’s open discussion and the ability to play around with eReaders.


ebooks, Technology

Justin The Librarian VS eBook readers

Sony Reader Touch Edition

RATING: 3/10

WHAT I LIKED:  The text on screen is beautiful.  Easy to read, pleasing on the eyes, and well formatted, the on screen text gets 2.5 of the 3 points I gave the Sony Reader.  I like that it’s library friendly…sort of.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Pretty much everything else.  The size of the eReader is manageable.  It felt like I was holding a larger sized paperback.  The page turning was a bit tedious, as the next page takes just enough time to load up to make it irritating.  I found it really confusing to navigate the menus.  Many times, I was confused as to whether I was to use the buttons or the touch screen.  And another thing about the touch screen; it’s just not that responsive.  The device felt pretty limited to just downloading and reading books.  In the age of multitasking, this machine just simply fails.  Downloading books onto your computer and then uploading them to your eReader is cumbersome.  I didn’t like that at all.

ON THE OTHER HAND: It’s pretty simple and straightforward to use.  I could see someone who’s OK at technology being able to handle this device if it comes preloaded.


Rating: 8.5/10

WHAT I LIKED: Like most (all?) Apple devices, the iPad is easy to operate and, c’mon you gotta admit it, pretty fun to play with.  As an eReader, the device shines.  The bookmarking and highlighting system are all very easy to use and manage.  I’m not a big highlighter but I found myself enjoying this feature more than I normally with with a traditional book.  Page turning is a breeze.  In fact, it’s quite neat to watch.  The font adjustment system works well, although personally I would like to see some more font options.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The Apple iBook store sucks.  While the search option works just find, simply browsing through titles is a chore.  You have to wade through page after page and after awhile it just becomes tedious.  Also, Apple, you are a little bitch.  There’s a sad lack of multi-tasking on the a device that seems to be PERFECT for multitasking.  Apple’s very “CLOSED NO YOU CAN’T SHARE OR BORROW” attitude towards eBooks is very sad.  I don’t want to have to buy an eBook every time I want to read it.  Seriously, you’re driving me away with this.

ON THE OTHER HAND: People are gonna flock to this and treat it like a cute little baby, which is understandable.  The iPad is enjoyable to use and very welcoming to people with all sorts of technology experience.  The iBook store can be frustrating and limiting, but once you get into a book it is very easy to read and quite enjoyable.


Rating: 7/10

WHAT I LIKED: Damn you Kindle.  I wanted to hate you.  All that you are is a simple black and white eBook reader.  I have to buy a lot of the things I want to read from you.  I don’t see how libraries can borrow from the Kindle and that makes me super bummed.  But here’s the deal.  I ended up liking you…a lot.  The Kindle is small and cozy enough that it wasn’t a drag to hold.  The eInk technology was pretty beautiful.  I’ve heard from lots of people that “eBooks don’t look and feel like real books, so I won’t read them”.  eInk pretty much takes care of that.  I got lost in a Kindle book and I forgot that I wasn’t actually reading “a real book” (whatever that means).  This is probably a good sign.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The Kindle is clunky.  I would’ve given it a 7.5 if the buttons were a little more friendly.  I had a hell of a time figuring out how to change the font size and getting the text to speech option to work.  In the age of being able to just change pages and access things with the flick of your finger ala the iPad, I found the Kindle to be clunky for no good reason.  Also, c’mon Amazon.  Be a little more friendly.  I like shopping at Amazon but it isn’t the only place I want to shop at.

ON THE OTHER HAND: I always think of my mother when it comes to new technology.  She’s one of those people that with adjustment to new technology it takes awhile for her to get comfortable.  The Kindle, with a few minor tweaks, could be something she could latch onto.


Rating: 5/10

WHAT I LIKED: The clunkiness of the Amazon Kindle is gone with the Barnes and Noble Nook.  The handy two screen interface keeps the main reason why you’re staring at this device (the book) right in front of you while you do all the other things that you want to do (change font size, look for another book, etc).  As with the other eInk displays, the Nook looks beautiful.  I’m also of the fan of the LendMe feature.  This is the mon ost library-like optioffered by the family of eReaders.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: I found the Nook to be quite slow compared to the other eReaders.  It took awhile for me to navigate.  It took some time to load up the books and turn the pages.  Overall, it just felt weak once I used the other devices.  The color touch pad navigation screen is a great idea but I found it to be too small and clunky for my tastes.  Instead of really working as a great tool, often times I found it to be more a nuisance.  A great idea, but poor execution doesn’t take it over the top.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Like the Kindle, this is something my mother could easily get into.  The draw for fans of Barnes and Noble stores is easily there, plus you can get loads of good eBook materials other ways should you choose.



What it all really comes down to is personal preference.  I could sit here all day and tell you about the ins and outs of each device, how DRM isn’t a great thing, and the little quirks that each offers and how they could be improved.  But here’s the deal…just try each one out for yourself and over time you’ll find which one works best for you.

This is the area where I think libraries can really excel at this time.  There’s so much confusion about how to lend out books and who actually owns them that is causing a lot of progress to come to a screeching halt.  It doesn’t seem like these kind of things are gonna be fixed anytime soon, so let’s take the next step. The public library should be the testing grounds for these devices.  We can learn about the ins and outs, show them to our patrons, and from there they can make a more informed decision about what they want.


EBooks and Libraries (an idea)

(I'm pretty sure this idea has already been kicked around. It's new to me, so I'm sharing.)

I know that there’s bigger issues at hand concerning ebooks and libraries and much more stuff to be figured out, but as a public librarian who is trying to introduce and teach the public about these tools, my focus gets moved around quite a bit.  Right now, I’m thinking how the heck can I do SOMETHING with ebooks for my community?

At my library, we’ve been talking about ebooks for a couple weeks and the idea above has been tossed around a few times.  I dig it.  Here’s why…

Imagine being a patron who just got a Kindle and  has absolutely no idea how to use it.
Where would you go?  What would you do?  Imagine that you decide to go to the library.  You ask them for assistance…and they can’t help at all.  FAIL!

That’s why I think it is so important for libraries to obtain the tools, study them, and then be ready for the onslaught of patrons with questions.  That’s one way we can show that public that we are still very important.

You are now an ebook master.  What do you do with this knowldege?  Don’t hide behind your reference desk.  Instead, get out there and teach your community.  Hold workshops, have demo units around the library with librarians ready to help patrons out.

Hands on experimentation and the help of an educated library staff will translate into better community relations.  This is a good thing!

I’m sorry, but at some point you’re gonna have to give that IPad back.  Why?  The patrons want to borrow them!  Ereaders ain’t the cheapest things around.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $500 just lying around.  People want to see what these are all about…so let them borrow them!

Lend out the device as a unit with books preloaded on it.  Consider it less of borrowing a book and more of a tool that your patrons can borrow.  Make sure you have a sound policy if any kind of damages occur.  Think before you jump into the world of lending out ereaders.  But don’t let all the little details bog you down…go for it.  Libraries need to take the leap here.

This is where it gets tricky.  My approach to this area isn’t solid, but I’ve got an idea. Have an ebook librarian.  Keep on lending out devices, but take that approach to the next level.  Allow the patron checking out the device to request a book (or two).  Slowly, you’ll build up a library (ha!) of ebooks.

Yah, I know this ain’t the definitive answer.  But’s it an idea, a start.  And we really need to get the ball rolling.

Books, Libraries

Justin The Librarian VS. E-Books

Lots of talk about ebooks, ereaders, and all that fancy stuff these days. I feel like I’m behind and I better weigh in.


  • C’mon.  What isn’t there to like about having access to tons and tons of books and newspapers available at your disposal at ANY time of the day.  Sometimes I don’t thinks things out in advance.  Sometimes I just want to read Walden dagnabit.  But my copy is at home.
  • It sure beats having to move/store/organize all those darn books in your house.  Anyone who has lots of books and has moved multiple times understands this.
  • I’ve used a Kindle and a Sony Reader Pocket Edition before.  They’re nice on the eyes.  I like the way the text looks.  They’re easy to handle and use.


  • Bragging rights.  There’s just something about showing off your book collection to a friend that comes over your house.  You know what I’m talking about.  We all do it.
  • Lots of people talk about how a “real” book feels and even smells.  I’m gonna have to agree with you on this one.  While it may not be a book, I still remember the smell of Weezer’s 1996 album Pinkerton when I first got it.  I love that smell to this day.
  • Just let us have and share our books with our friends.  Dear publishing companies, I promise we’re not going to drive you out of business.  Don’t become like the music industry and think that sharing is a vile four letter word.  It isn’t.  Sharing is part of who we are.  If you let us share, we’ll be nice.  Nice=profits.  I promise.

I’m not expert, but that’s my take on the ebook phenomenon. I myself am holding off a year or so on getting an ereader.  It all just feels so unsettled right now that I’d prefer to let natural selection run its course.

PS: This article helped me a lot.