Monday, April 23, 2012

Going Digital Without Getting Dizzy

I spent the weekend at the Missouri Writer's Guild Conference and had a wonderful time. As both Library Support Staff and an emerging writer, I've followed the rise of digital books with equal measures of interest and unease.

One session of the conference I enjoyed was Jane Friedman's on the impact of Google, FaceBook, Amazon and Apple on a writer's career. It's important to remember that whatever happens to writers will eventually affect a library. Digital lending (and its pricing) is a hot topic between libraries and publishers right now. The rise of e-readers (Kindle and Nook) and Tablets (iPad and Android offerings) is pushing demand for digital materials to own or rent.

Jane said one thing that surprised me. Apparently, pundits are divided on whether tablets are here to stay. Looking at tech use here on the HHS campus, tablets are the least owned personal devices our students have. The iPads are popular at lunch and get used everyday, but few kids own one. I see e-readers now and then, but the number one device students own is a smartphone, followed by a laptop. Reading on either of those devices, while possible, isn't always desirable. In my own life, I rarely use my iPad, I prefer a real book or my laptop for long projects.

What does this all have to do with us in the Media Center? Will the district ever go digital?

Public libraries will always adopt new technologies before school libraries, their infrastructure is better designed for change and so are their patrons. Patron demand weights heavily on planning and implementing new policies. At this point in time, we aren't seeing a heavy demand for digital books from students. Until tablets or e-readers are as commonly owned as a mobile phone or home computers I don't expect that to change. Our resources are best used acquiring new fiction and updating systems and software the kids use here in the Media Center.

It often feels like the digital revolution is moving so fast it's hard to keep up. Yes and no. It is here, it will stay, but the speed at which you adopt to it is yours to set. In many ways it's never been a better time to be a writer and a reader. Some things to keep in mind-

1- The more options authors have for releasing material, the more choices (often at lower price points) readers have.
2- Most platforms support digital lending or downloads to every device on the market, which also keeps choice and pricing options in the hands of consumers.
3- Device options keep getting better.
4- Support for your devices is strong. Most public libraries offer free classes on digital lending.
5- Pick your pace. I started with a Kindle app on my iPhone and have graduated to both Nook and Kindle apps on my iPad. You don't necessarily have purchase a new device to try e-books.
6- We're watching! Here in the LMC, we're following all the trends and information and deciding how best to keep up, run from or adopt the latest services or devices that help our students. Feel free to ask us questions.
7- Print books will be around for a long time. There will be fewer to buy, but the medium will not become extinct.

I'm curious to know what devices you use. Have you bought something new in the last six months? Thinking about a change? Let me know about it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Library Week

Believe it or not this week is National Library Week. Librarians across the country are being showered with praise, thanks and gifts (we are quite fond of chocolate here in the LMC). And while we had every opportunity to purchase posters advertising National Library Week, or promote it through web and daily announcements, Ms. Orest and I are just too darn busy to stop and celebrate. She's preparing for presentations next week, students had AIMS testing this week and of course it took me several days of deep concentration to come up with today's blog post topic.

See what I mean?

I have a strong suspicion that very few school libraries are celebrating.  Like us, they have too much going on. That isn't to say public libraries coast through the day, but in general adult patrons are more independent. The idea behind National Library Week isn't merely to show appreciation for  dedicated staff (though I can certainly get behind that!) but to also highlight all the services libraries provide to patrons.

In short, the public needs to know what we do all day.

Homework Help- Finding students research books or websites. Print and formatting assistance for English papers (those are very long days for us as everyone waits until the last minute to print their paper here at school). Technology and Library education presentations- how to use the library and our equipment.

Hostess with the Mostest!- Classes come into the LMC almost every day, some times multiple ones from different departments on the same day. Occasionally we double book due to high demand.  Classes will use laptops for a variety of tasks (the foreign language classes conjugate verbs on a special website). Sometimes the LMC is so popular we have to send people away.

Hand holding- Not literally, but everyday there is a crisis of some kind- document won't print, file won't open, BFF stopped speaking to someone. The LMC is an area of respite for many students. They study, they hang out with friends, they play on the Wii (not during class time) and they share their lives with us. We get updates on sports, college acceptance, prom status and much more.

Hand it over- Books that is. Finding books the kids need still, even in the digital age, occupies a nice chunk of time here in the LMC.

An official National Library Week celebration would have been nice, but we do get ample thanks and appreciation every day from students and staff.

But not much chocolate.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Fever Hits HHS

There were a few times last week where I thought I was on the set on AMC's zombie drama Walking Dead. No one, it seemed, was quite ready to be back on campus after Spring Break. I don't recall feeling that way after Winter Break in January. Perhaps because leaving the busyness of the holiday season felt like such a relief!

This week has been better. Now that I work on a high school campus I've learned something I didn't know before- senioritis is contagious! The warm weather has all us distracted and daydreaming about our summer plans. Spring also brings college notification letters. It's been both exciting and difficult to see our HHS seniors get a yes or a no from the campus they've dreamed of attending.

Prom is on the horizon and the expectancy for it is building. We had one romantic prom proposal in the Media Center already. (She said yes.)

And while the school year is coming to an end, the seniors are on the edge of a new beginning and I find the energy swirling around so infectious! Life is a series of stops and starts, journeys and destinations, rewards and challenges. I don't think you can be around these kids and not reflect on new possibilities in your own life.

For me here in the Media Center, I've been thinking about how much Ms. Orest and I have accomplished this year, our first together, and what we hope to do more of in the next school year.  The perception of the library as a dead zone has changed and the kids are figuring out all the new things they can do here. We are busy as ever as we head toward the end of school and some days I'm exhausted.

So if I stop talking about books in favor of brains, proceed with caution.