Reflections on the ALA iPads in the Library webinar

March 22, 2013

Image by Matthew Downey (Own work) Creative Commons

Image by Matthew Downey (Own work) Creative Commons

I attended the ALA program “Integrating iPads and Tablets into Library Services” (see slides here) on March 14 and March 21. Below are a couple of cool ideas I could see for our library.

iPad tour.  Virginia Tech creates screencasts of various important sections of the library, and then create QR codes that can be scanned by the user’s smart phone, or from an iPad checked out in the library.  They have a vibrant First Year Experience program that requires students to complete a library tour, so this works well for offering the students the ability to tour on their own time and at their own pace.  Over 2,000 of these tours were completed in Fall 2012 alone!

This would be great for our library as well.  Our library was just completed a year ago, and, being at a community college, some students may still only know the old library. All the books are on the 2nd floor, so many students coming into the library don’t realize that there are still books here. Additionally, our community patrons could benefit from this tour too.

Roving Reference. Often, this means reference done not at the reference desk, but in the stacks (within the library building.)  However, this definition is expanding to mean “outside” the library building, (in the classroom, for example.)  Mobility with tablets, the plethora of apps, plus the ease and accessibility of devices, make doing this type of library service yet another way to bring services to the point of need.  I loved this quote from the presenter: “to serve the population in the BEST WAY POSSIBLE.”

A colleague and I have branched out to do a bit of this at my library, after conversations with interested faculty.  In fact, by going to the classroom, briefly discussing library resources, and then remaining on hand in the area to answer questions has initially proven successful. New business was even generated, just because the librarians were seen “outside” the library, and faculty and students were curious as to why. By explaining our presence, many were interested in having us attend their class!  We hope to work with other faculty again soon, and have more in-depth conversations, about how we can bring the library experience to them and their students, when a one-shot library class isn’t possible.  Communication and flexibility between librarians and the faculty can create all sorts of exciting possibilities!

The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to try some things that may seem a bit “out of the box.”  Many libraries are offering iPad/tablet programs, and mobile services using these devices.  My hope is to start reading and exploring the pros and cons of others’ experiences with these programs, and to develop a detailed plan that will ultimately meet and exceed the expectations of our faculty and students.

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