Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thing #11

Well, I'm up to Thing #11 on this journey called Nebraska Learns 2.0. The exercise for this item is to blog about technology, any technology. That's a pretty broad field so I think I'll try to keep to technology as it applies to our local library. I've worked there long enough to remember typing (on a typewriter, remember them?) a minimum of 3, up to 6 or 7 catalog cards for each item added to the collection. I remember when someone needed something we didn't have in the library we would try to come up with something to order on Inter-Library Loan using an outdated Books In Print because we couldn't afford the newer version. I also remember telling patrons they would just have to go to a larger library, maybe Norfolk, to have a better chance of finding what they needed. It's been a long time since I had to do that.

TECHNOLOGY has made the difference. Specifically computers & the Internet. There's an awful lot of downright crap on the Internet but there are also lots of excellent resources. One does have to be careful about sources, but now if I can't find exactly what a patron needs, I can at least look on Amazon.com or in other libraries' online catalogs to find a book to ILL.

The library got its first computer early in 1992, after using a loaner from the Northeast Library System for about three months. That was the first I had used a computer. Since then I have gone from DOS, through several versions of Windows up to XP. Windows Vista came on my lastest laptop but my printer would only partially work with it and my scanner not at all so I nixed Vista and put XP on. It's a Sony & if you are at all familiar with the way Sony does things you know there's a long story involved. Let's not go there.

Anyway, from the library getting that first computer in '92, we've gone to 5 public use computers with Internet access, an automated circulation system & OPAC, a digital microfilm reader that prints through a computer, and a laptop & digital projector. As the librarian, I've done purchasing, set-up, networking, repairs and lived through switching to automation. I've built web pages, added RAM memory, changed out hard disks and power supplies, set up wireless networking. Not bad for a girl born just barely after TV was making an appearance in the American home.

Technology keeps taking us in new directions. When I first started working in the library we had books, magazines and the vertical file (remember those?). Oh, and vinyl records, jigsaw puzzles & sewing patterns. The records, puzzles & patterns went by the wayside and we got books on tape, now books on CD or in mp3 format. Video tapes have given way to DVDs. Currently the big push is for gaming in libraries. Seems libraries try anything to get people in the door. The thing is, with all this great stuff how do you get the money to pay for it all? As a small library in a town of less than 400, with about 400 registered patrons we have to ask ourselves just what it is we want to be doing. Yes, we make use of technology to provide for our patrons' needs, but the biggest share of our budget is & will continue to be spent on books. Our library will not become the local gaming arcade. Spending money on that would take away from our primary goal of providing reading material and information for our community. We pick and choose our technology to best suit our goals.

Now, I've rambled on for long enough. It's time to check out the blogs of other Nebraska Learns 2.0 participants.


  1. I agree with many of your comments,
    and I do remember typing all those catalog cards! I don't want to see a WII gaming system come into our library, many people still see this as a place to get away from noise!

  2. I'm also a library director in a small town library of less than 400 people. It is amazing how much has changed. Automation was definitely a highlight for me.

  3. I am a library science student, a non-traditional one at that, and I remember our first computer appearing in our math classroom when I was in 8th grade! Nowdays, I am typing on this blog via a laptop and wireless internet!

  4. I enjoyed reading about your experiences with changing technologies over the years. Sounds like you've kept on top of things and set good priorities--balancing traditional services with innovation. I grew up in a tiny town, and the library was my haven as a kid. Great to see small libraries continue serving their communities with such commitment.

  5. I have also seen the same changes you have. I said in my blog that this job is completely different than it was twenty years ago when I became director. I also like to quilt and knit and embroidery, I just don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

  6. I enjoyed your comments about technology. I find myself thinking many of the same things. I thank God for things like Books in Print database. They make life so much easier,

  7. I have not been a librarian long enough to have moved through the various aspects of technology that you mention. I have been lucky enough to step into a library that already has internet and an online catalogue, along with a computer check out system.
    My complaints have been with the IT and networking infastructure here at my own library. Thank you for your awesome comments, which made me take a second and third thought about how much worse it could be. Though I must note here that we have cleaned out several old vertical files since my arrival. :D

  8. I agree with many of your points. Most of importantly we should keep the needs and wants, and skills, of the customer in mind.