Designing Digital Experiences for Library Websites

On Sunday, I had the privilege of presenting about digital experiences with John Blyberg, Bobbi Newman, and Toby Greenwalt. The room was packed, there were great questions afterwards … and I think it went well!

Here are the slides for my portion of the talk (and here’s a link to Toby’s too).

iPads in Libraries – Some Stories

There are quite a few uses for an iPad in a library setting, and some libraries have already started experimenting. Here are two examples:

#1: Omaha Public Library

From Amy Mather – “For the past few years, the Omaha Public Library’s Summer Reading Program kick-off party has been held in Elmwood Park in Omaha and has attracted up to 2500 kids for kick-off activities including live music, games,  pony rides, etc. Although always a success, we had one glaring “missed opportunity” at these events: signing up kids & teens for the Summer Reading program “online” at an outside venue.”

“Gary Wasdin, director of Omaha Public Library, applied for a local grant to obtain 6 iPads in which we could use to signup kids & adults for the Summer Reading Program. The iPads would allow us to connect to the AT&T’s 3G network and signup patrons on the spot for the Summer Reading Program. On June 9th, we signed up over 500 kids, teens, and adults using iPads. The iPad allowed us to take the mobile library to the next level and we looked really cool too!”

#2: Genesee Valley Educational Partnership

From Christopher Harris – “I am at a school library system, a regional support center funded by NY state to provide services and resources for 22 small, rural school districts in Western NY. Since we got the iPads so late in the year, right now we are just loaning them to teachers and librarians to build awareness in our districts. Over the summer, we will be working on developing some best practice guidelines and suggested uses for the devices. We hope to begin lending them for student use in the fall, though they may be for in-school use only the first year as they remain a very high-value theft target. We have 150 iPod shuffles we send home with students without any problems, so hopefully we will get to that point soon with the iPads as well.”

“Right now, we are loaning books from iBooks. My reading of the terms of use suggest that we can do this within our system. I am also working directly with publishers to secure additional content. We have a number of graphic novel biographies from Rosen, as well as a large collection (125 sci-fi/fantasy books) that I just got from another publisher. As for other apps, we purchased Pages/Keynote/Numbers and have 5 keyboard docks we can send out. We also have Dragon Dictation, Sundry Notes, Complete Shakespeare, Historical Maps, and a few others.”

What are these two libraries doing?

  • fixing a problem (signing up kids online … in a park)
  • experimenting … but also developing guidelines and strategy for use
  • breaking out of the “this is the way we’ve always done it” syndrome
  • applying new technology to traditional library services

Is your library experimenting with iPads? If so – how are you using them?

See You at ALA10!

ALA2007I’ll be at ALA10 in Washington DC, starting on Wednesday. And I hope to meet some of you, too! If you happen to see me, feel free to come up and say hi – that’s always welcome.

I’ll be wearing many hats at ALA10 – speaker, attendee, judge, committee member, vendor-hunter-downer, and “social-function-finder.” And possibly tourist, lost tourist, and “one of those librarians in town” types, as well!

Want to hear me (and some other amazing people) speak? Here’s where I’ll be:

  • Designing Digital Experiences for Library Websites (Sunday, June 27, 10:30-12). This is a panel, with Bobbi Newman, Toby Greenwalt, and John Blyberg.
  • BIGWIG Showcase (Monday, June 28, 10:30 – 12). Think of this as a guided unconference where you can watch or read about the topics beforehand, then talk with the presenter during the actual event in a small group setting. It’s pretty fun! I’m talking about iPads in libraries.
  • Battledecks! (Monday, June 28, 5:30-7pm). This will definitely be a blast! There are 5-6 contestants who will attempt to give amazingly fun pecha kucha-like presentations … but they won’t see the slides until we say “your turn!” I’m one of the judges for this event. I hear there might be kilts.

Should be a blast – see you soon!

iPads in Libraries

See the Youtube version in HD

Going to ALA 2010 in Washington, D. C.? If so, please consider participating in the BIGWIG Showcase! What is the BIGWIG Showcase? It’s a fun, highly interactive way to learn about a lot of topics at once! Here’s a list of the topics for this year’s Showcase:

  • Libraries MUST Have A New Electronic Content Access and Distribution Infrastructure  (Michael Porter)
  • User Research on a Shoestring (Erin White and Susan Teague-Rector)
  • Information Overload & Personal Information Management (Bohyun Kim)
  • iPad and Tablet computers (David Lee King)
  • Teaching with Twitter (Ellen Filgo)
  • Qrcodes & Mobile Knowledge Networks (Bonnie Rosalen and Kelly Sattler)

And yes – I’m doing one … my presentation is on the Apple iPad and the new breed of tablet PCs that are coming out in the next couple of years. I show off the iPad and provide some examples of how to use one in a library setting.

What do YOU need to do? Two simple things:

  1. Watch the video, and leave a comment if you want to
  2. Attend the Showcase! I’ll talk briefly about the iPad, possibly even show one off … then we’ll chat – answer questions, debate the merits of the iPad, etc… and then you’ll be able to rotate off and talk to the other amazing presenters (listed above).

Simple stuff, huh? Make SURE to attend the BIGWIG ShowcaseMonday, June 28, 2010 from 10:30am to Noon at the Renaissance Washington Grand BR South/Central. See you there!

Library eBooks can be Frustrating!

Overdrive for iPhoneFirst – go read this – I am a frustrated eBook (non) user, by Sarah Houghton-Jan (you do read her blog, right? It rocks). Then come back, and let’s discuss.

I have to admit, I had a VERY similar experience with the iPhone Overdrive app. I spent a goodly chunk of time trying to figure it out, and gave up (planning to get back to it eventually). Instructions on use? There are some, but they didn’t make sense to me. I’m sure this one’s my fault, since I don’t usually listen to audiobooks … but still.

I was finally able to “successfully” check something out. But I guess it was already “checked out,” so I didn’t immediately get the book. Nope. I had to wait for 3 days, then received an email saying my download was ready. I was busy, so missed my window of opportunity to download the book… so now, I need to start over again!

My questions –

  • Why is Overdrive that hard to use? If Sarah and I can’t easily figure this thing out, our patrons won’t be able to, either. They’ll try once, then go use something else.
  • Thinking of my library here – normal books? Easy to check out. Videos in our Mediabank DVD dispenser? Easy as RedBox or an ATM machine to use. Overdrive? Hard enough to use that we set up a special PC right by our Reference desk so we can help patrons figure the thing out.
  • Check out the pic to the right – it’s the iPhone app. Help is prominently featured, front and center, right over the iPhone’s Home button) . At the least, that sends the wrong message. Why can’t there be something like “3 easy steps to downloading?” when you turn on the app for the first time, then have Help go under a secondary menu? If you really need Help on the main page, you probably need to redesign.
  • It’s a digital file – why can’t I access the ebook when someone else has it “checked out?” That doesn’t make much sense to me.
  • Why doesn’t the app have me make a connection to my local library the first time I use it? The process goes like this: download app, turn app on. Read Help. Click a link … that takes you out of the app, and onto the web. It would be much better to at least keep me in the app.

I know, I know – DRM. That’s the problem, right? I’m not completely buying that. At least SOME of the problem is on the design and usability end (of at least Overdrive). But there HAS to be an easier way to manage DRM concerns, like allowing someone to check out stuff, but then adding one extra step or something that makes you “prove” you’ve deleted the file? Netflix’s digital downloads and the movie rental part of iTunes are similar (except for that whole for-profit thing) to a library setup. They also deal with people “borrowing” their stuff, some of it even digitally. But it’s easy. Why can’t our library vendors (Overdrive, Netlibrary, etc) also build something easy to use and manage?

ALA Annual’s coming up. These are GREAT questions to start asking there.