Monday, December 22, 2008

Thing 11: A Thing about Technology

As a member of Gen X or Gen Y (depending on who you ask), technology has always been a part of my life. Sure maybe as a kid it was playing Oregon Trail on the Apple IIc, or as a young adult hauling around my brand new 5 pound cell phone, but technology has almost always been there. The internet, my cell phone, satelite TV are some of the things I use every day without another thought to them not being available to me.

When I started at my current position last October, a blaring techology gap was brought to my attention front and center. Our collection @ Hastings Memorial Library was only about 60% automated when I started. My previous library had been fully automated since the early 1990's and it was a real adjustment for me not to be able to simply go to the OPAC or circ software to look up a title/author/subject to find material. If someone came in and asked me for juvenile books on Mars or parakeets, I had to remember what Dewey number those topics fell under. If a patron asked me if we had easy readers about hibernation, I had to draw on my personal knowledge on this topic an outside database to find what they needed. Now I would say that our collection is 90% automated and it is nice to be able to go back to the old familiar OPAC to find what I need.

Sure technology can be frustrating, cell phone calls drop, the internet goes down for no apparent reason... but it is an essential tool for my job as a librarian and in my life. The thing that I am appreciating the most about these "23 things" we are working our way through is that the exercises are making me move outside of my technological comfort zone. I am learning and doing things that I probably would not have done save for this actvitity. As you can probably imagine (since our collection is not even fully automated), our library is not really on the cutting edge of technology. We have 6 public access computers that see quite a bit of use, but I think very few of my patrons even know what an OPAC is, let alone how to use it. Our website is essentially a place holder website with our address and hours and not much else. If nothing else, these "things" have jump started my desire and motivation to move technology forward in our library. That and made me wonder how I ever lived without RSS feeds. :)

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