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David Lee King

Topeka’s Techie Toybox



Blue Snowball USB MicrophoneI thought some of you might be interested in my library’s “techie toybox” that I have been purchasing over the summer. What is a techie toybox? In our case, it’s a bunch of gadgets, cameras, and the like that library staff can check out and, well, do stuff with. Here’s the list of gadgets (photos of most can be seen here), and some suggestions I gave (on one of our staff blogs) for starters on how to use them:

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The Techie Toybox was started by a generous gift from the Friends. With it, we were able to purchase some “techie toys” with a few goals in mind:

  • keeping our staff current on new technology
  • allowing us to “try out” gadgets our customers are using
  • Allowing us to start creating multimedia content for the digital branch

Here’s what we have (with some starter ideas for trying the techie toys out – don’t limit yourselves to my ideas, though!):

Cameras:

  • Canon Powershot Pro S3 IS – digital camera
  • Canon Powershot A710 IS – digital camera

What can you do with these? Photograph library programs and events, what’s happening at the library, departmental photos, etc – and dump the photos into the library’s flickr account. For starters…

Video Camcorders:

  • Sanyo Xacti HD2 – ultra small video camera, saves to an SD card
  • Sony HDR-SR7 Handycam High Definition Camcorder – consumer-level camera, saves to internal hard drive
  • Panasonic PV-GS320 Camcorder – consumer-level camera, saves to Mini DV tapes
  • Canon GL2 Digital Camcorder – Prosumer-level camcorder, saves to Mini DV tapes
  • Logitech QuickCam Pro 5000 – desktop webcam

What can you do with these? Same as above, but with video instead of audio. Dump videos into the library’s YouTube account. Do something original… Start a weekly “what’s going on at the library” video magazine…

Portable PCs:

  • HP Pavilion tx1000 – tablet PC
  • OQO Model 02 – Ultra portable “fits in your pocket” PC

What can you do with these? See if you can work your desk shift using one of these rather than a service desk PC! Try roaming the stacks (both hook up to our wifi system). You will probably need some type of video editing program too… talk to Digital Services first (unless you already have some editing software, then go for it!).

Microphones and Audio recording:

  • Edirol R-09 24-bit Wave/MP3 Recorder – portable audio recorder, records to an SD card
  • Blue Snowball – upper-end USB microphone
  • Samson C01U – mid-level USB microphone
  • Logitech Desktop Mic – entry-level USB microphone

What can you do with these? Record podcasts! Become a “library reporter for a day!” Podcast your committee minutes (ok, that one’s pretty boring… but might be useful, too). You will need audio editing software if you plan to play much with the audio files. Talk to Digital Services to get Audacity, an excellent, free, open source editing program.

Video/MP3 Players:

  • iPod Touch – new Apple MP3 and video player, and mobile web browser
  • Microsoft Zune – mp3 and video player
  • Video iPod – mp3 and video player
  • Creative Zen Vision – mp3 and video player
  • Sansa 1 gb MP3 player – mp3 player

What can you do with these? Some of them will allow you to listen to our OverDrive ebooks. Others won’t, but our patrons are using them – so get familiar with them! Find out what you can and can’t do – what free ebooks are out there that WILL work… free music sites, etc. Play with the video – see what the video you made with the video equipment (above) looks like in a tiny format… Again, it’s possible that Digital services will need to hook you up with the appropriate software to fully test these out – don’t be afraid to ask!

Miscellaneous:

  • Sony Reader – e-book reader
  • Belkin WiFi phone – wifi phone, can be set up to work with Skype

What can you do with these? The Sony reader already has some books (excerpts, I think) loaded onto it – try it out! Let others know how good/bad it is to read. With the WiFi phone, I plan to hook it up to a year long Skype phone plan for the library – then we can call people with it… using any wifi you can access.

So – that’s what we have. I plan on setting up a “show and tell” on these things, probably late November/early December. Stay tuned for more on that!

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So – what techie toys do other libraries have? Please share!

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  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    David,

    Thanks for showing this off. I think I spent all day yesterday trying to find out where I saw this. We are looking at duplicating this on a smaller scale at my library.

    We are going to buy the zunes, ipod nanos, and sony readers for starters. Staff and our teen group can use them and play with them. It is part of our overdrive project to help promote its use and show how it can be used. We will expand past this. This gives me a perfect model to follow. Thank you!

  • http://gathernodust.blogspot.com Jeff

    David,

    Thanks for showing this off. I think I spent all day yesterday trying to find out where I saw this. We are looking at duplicating this on a smaller scale at my library.

    We are going to buy the zunes, ipod nanos, and sony readers for starters. Staff and our teen group can use them and play with them. It is part of our overdrive project to help promote its use and show how it can be used. We will expand past this. This gives me a perfect model to follow. Thank you!

  • http://managethis.informationcentre.ca/ Barbara Kelly

    Hi David, I was just wondering if staff can take the tools home, such as the cameras, and use them as patrons are using them, rather than using them for work?

  • http://librarygarden.blogspot.com/ JanieH

    Love your toybox and the ideas that you listed for using it!

    We have had a “Gadget Garage” at Princeton Public Library since we opened our new library in May 2004. It is used to support our lab and our teaching — we have several MP3 players as well as cameras, camcorders, etc.

    We use the gadgets to support our classes (one of our most popular being Digital Camera Test Drive) and during Open Tech Time in the lab. Our staff also is free to check out the equipment and we are heavy users of the gadgets in the garage. We are currently updating and adding to our gadgetry as it is so popular.

    Here is our current list on the web:
    http://princetonlibrary.org/research/techcenter/gadgetgarage.html
    We just moved it to a bigger location, so I need to get new pictures posted.

    Oh, and something else we did about 2 years ago that has proven to be popular is we issued USB Flash Drives to all our staff for their own use. We bought 100 flash drives and handed them out to anyone who asked.

  • http://librarygarden.blogspot.com JanieH

    Love your toybox and the ideas that you listed for using it!

    We have had a “Gadget Garage” at Princeton Public Library since we opened our new library in May 2004. It is used to support our lab and our teaching — we have several MP3 players as well as cameras, camcorders, etc.

    We use the gadgets to support our classes (one of our most popular being Digital Camera Test Drive) and during Open Tech Time in the lab. Our staff also is free to check out the equipment and we are heavy users of the gadgets in the garage. We are currently updating and adding to our gadgetry as it is so popular.

    Here is our current list on the web:
    http://princetonlibrary.org/research/techcenter/gadgetgarage.html
    We just moved it to a bigger location, so I need to get new pictures posted.

    Oh, and something else we did about 2 years ago that has proven to be popular is we issued USB Flash Drives to all our staff for their own use. We bought 100 flash drives and handed them out to anyone who asked.

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  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ david lee king

    Barbara – yes, we plan to allow staff to take them home, use them however, etc – they just have to bring them back!

    JanieH – that’s an awesome list!

  • http://www.davidleeking.com david lee king

    Barbara – yes, we plan to allow staff to take them home, use them however, etc – they just have to bring them back!

    JanieH – that’s an awesome list!

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  • Kelley Beeson

    Hi David et al!

    We just bought a Flip Video Digital Video Recorder ($159). Saw the review in SLJ and it looked like a great way for our county libraries to begin video-blogging and recording booktalks and meeting highlights. We haven’t gotten it yet, but it’s the first purchase for our eventual ‘techie toy box’!

  • Kelley Beeson

    Hi David et al!

    We just bought a Flip Video Digital Video Recorder ($159). Saw the review in SLJ and it looked like a great way for our county libraries to begin video-blogging and recording booktalks and meeting highlights. We haven’t gotten it yet, but it’s the first purchase for our eventual ‘techie toy box’!

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  • http://managethis.informationcentre.ca/ Barbara Kelly

    Hi David, I was just wondering if staff can take the tools home, such as the cameras, and use them as patrons are using them, rather than using them for work?

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