Friday, August 23, 2013

Comp H: Technology

Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.

Libraries are rapidly incorporating new technologies to stay relevant to their patrons. These technologies range from social media tools to OPACs to e-books and even to video game systems. LIS professionals must have knowledge of these tools and how to effectively use them in their own library or information centers. Through my experience and classes, I have learned how to identify, use, and evaluate technologies for an LIS setting.

·         Identifying technologies
It can be difficult to stay on top of all the new technologies that are constantly coming out. There are several sources to help find the most important technologies for the LIS field. The annual Horizon Report from The New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative describes key technology trends, their relevance, how they will work in practice, and further resources. For instance, from the 2011 Horizon Report, describes how educators are starting to make use of gesture-control technologies in classrooms and how soon this technology may proliferate. Magazines from reputable LIS sources such as ALA’s American Libraries and Information Age, as well as e-mail subscriptions to publications from professional groups like ASIS&T, explain the new technologies people are using in LIS settings. Meredith Farkas’ “Technology in Practice” column from American Libraries in particular really gives insight into how new technologies can fit in to the LIS environment. More informal methods can help, also; Twitter feeds from tech-savvy people like Baratunde Thurston, or technology-focused blogs like, can link a follower to new software and online tools.

·         Using technologies
I have been using computer technology since I was small and I love learning new things about it. Even though it was the early 1980s, I was lucky enough as a child to attend a school that taught computer classes from first grade on up. We learned to program in BASIC on Apple II computers and played early games like Oregon Trail. At home, we had an Apple IIGS (which was extremely advanced at the time, having one whole megabyte of memory). I began learning HTML in 1997 and even worked in technical support for an Internet service provider for a year during college. So my interest in technology and how to use it was the basis for choosing many of my classes. I took LIBR 240 and LIBR 246 to learn about information technology tools. LIBR 282 taught me about management of those tools.

In nearly every class, I used a new or different technology tool for assignments and projects. Many of these tools can be used in LIS work I may do in the future. I have made screencast tutorials, websites, LibGuides and Oracle databases. I have also used different productivity tools that help me accomplish these projects, such as RSS readers and browser extensions. I feel comfortable experimenting with new tools and discarding those that don’t help or are not worth the time, effort, or cost.

·         Evaluating technologies
Not every technology is right for every situation. In LIBR 204, I did a literature review on social media (in particular, Facebook, Twitter, blogs) in libraries. Many of these were how-to articles that explained how to choose the best tools for a library. According to Burgdorfer (2010), “Library 2.0 technologies [should] be implemented in accordance with the library’s strategic goals and with the intention of fulfilling the library’s mission, not simply for the sake of using something new” (p. 7). The consensus among the authors seemed to be that social media technology can be useful for the library as long as it is regularly used and updated. For example, if a library needs to make a lot of short but frequent updates, Twitter may be the best medium. If there are large amounts of pictures, Flickr or Instagram may be better.

In LIBR 282, we used Harvard Business Review case studies to examine ethical issues related to using technologies. The case studies are not specific to LIS, but the issues discussed by business leaders can be used by anyone. For example, in class we studied the pros and cons of open source software and the ethical problems associated with using customer analytics. The Harvard Business Review is a good resource to turn to when evaluating the ethical dilemmas associated with new technologies.

Evidence 1 is from LIBR 246, Advanced Information Technology Tools. This class focused on information visualization, so we used many different tools to make charts, graphs, guides, maps, and more. Before this class, I had never done information visualization beyond a basic bar graph. Not only did I learn about the tools, I also learned how to discern the best way to represent information so it is clear and understandable. This particular assignment, Information Visualization Tour deFrance, shows scatterplot graphs, matrix charts, word clouds, and bar charts I made using IBM’s free online tool for visualizing large data sets, Many Eyes. This program lets the user upload any data set in an Excel spreadsheet, and it will automatically insert the data into the different visualizations. The user can then tinker with the visualizations to get exactly the output necessary. This evidence proves that I can use and evaluate a completely new tool to be able to present information to an audience in a comprehensible format.

Evidence 2, Caldecott LibGuides, is from my current virtual internship (LIBR 294) as a research assistant at Indiana University – East. The LibGuides can be found here: I have done the theme, artistic style, and artist LibGuides since I began at the end of August. I had not made LibGuides in any class, so I had to learn from the ground up how to make an effective one. I used the available tutorials from Springshare (the creators of LibGuides), as well as advice from my site supervisor, to make my guides. I have learned to embed videos, add books from the catalog, make lists of links, and insert my own HTML code. The Springshare tutorials were an immense help in getting started, as moving the boxes and pages around can get a bit tricky. This evidence shows that I can quickly master a technology tool that is commonly used by LIS professionals.

Evidence 3 is from LIBR 287, Information Literacy. It is a short screencast I made with CamStudio about editing files in MediaMonkey (a free media organization program). It is embedded below and also available to download at Media Monkey Screencast FinalI’m using this evidence to show that I understand how to use screencasting tools. CamStudio is a free and fairly simple program; it has basic features only. Since I wrote the script and rehearsed my screencast beforehand, I found I did not need any fancy editing features for this project. However, in class we learned about other screencasting tools - such as Camtasia Studio - that are available if I ever need these advanced features. Screencasting is a common tool used by librarians for making tutorials and informational videos for patrons, so it is important to know how screencasting software works.  

Evidence 4 is a website I designed for my LIBR 240 final project. It is for my husband’s business, Brunette Property Maintenance, and can be found here: The requirements for the assignment were to write the HTML and CSS code. I also had to include an RSS feed, a video, and a slideshow. I used several tools I had acquired throughout the semester to complete this project: Notepad ++ for writing HTML, Komodo Edit 7 for writing XML, and FileZilla FTP Client for uploading files to the server. Some of the tools were recommended by the professor and other students; some I had found through online research. For example, the professor had recommended using the FTP program CyberDuck to upload our files. After a few weeks of trying this program and being disconnected frequently, I took the advice of fellow students and installed FileZilla instead. That program worked for me much better. This project shows I know how to identify technology tools to use, as well as evaluate how well the tools are working.

The ability to use new technologies is very important to me. I have never been afraid to try something new, and this quality as well as all I have learned in the SLIS program about technology tools will stand me in good stead as I search for a job in the LIS field. Technology is only going to get better and faster, so we librarians should embrace the possibilities this presents for our field.

Screencast Assignment

Burgdorfer, K. (2011, July 16). Pennsylvania public libraries and Facebook. [Web document]. Retrieved from

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