September 4, 2015 at 9:32 pm #1600
Information technology is everyone’s business. All librarians should be interested in and on top of developments in consumer tech.
It’s important to stay informed in the latest technology, as a librarian we are an information resource and should be able to assist clients with general tech requests and if we are unable to answer then we should be resourceful enough to seek out the information needed for our clients. It’s also necessary for Librarians great computer literacy skills as it will be beneficial to your day to day work, carrying out research, developing programs for clients and staff and keeping up to date with the latest trends. Clients with a disability may require more hands on assistance to assist them with making the most of the library services.
Technology is not just something you ‘access’ but something more fluid that is part of our everyday lives. From doing our banking, paying bills online, sharing data and managing personal information to entertainment, research and further learning. We cannot disconnect entirely from technology it’s in our home, in our purse, and at work and is not something we can choose to ignore. By embracing technology we can have fun in learning and in teaching others to make the most of their devices such as Smart Phones and Tablets/iPads.
Here is an example of discovering a tech need and sharing knowledge to solve someone’s problem:
One of my colleagues who I worked with out on site (72 years of age) mentioned to me how frustrated and disappointed she was that she had purchased an iPhone 5S and it was broken. She told me she had taken her brand new phone to the apple store and complained to them that the battery ran out within a couple of hours which shouldn’t happen as it was brand new. The staff at the Apple Store looked at her phone and couldn’t work out the issue but offered to replace it with a “refurbished” phone. Feeling she had no choice, she accepted the phone, only to find it was doing the same thing. I thought this was odd as I had the same phone and hadn’t experienced the same issue. Then I looked over at her phone in its case and noticed the screen was lit up. I asked her if she had just received a message as her screen was lit up. She then told me she had to hide it in a drawer at night as the screen wouldn’t turn off and it was lighting her room up. I then realised what her issue was, the staff at Apple hadn’t set her phone screen to switch off after a minute of non-use. I quickly went to settings and set it up for her and the problem was solved. She was pleased the battery would no longer run flat so fast however she was very upset that she’d swapped her brand new phone for a “refurbished” one all because Apple didn’t know how to ask her the right questions and she had no knowledge of the technology she had purchased.
Whilst people who grew up in the mid 1990’s and more are very tech savvy and have always been exposed to computer technology and the internet the rest of us, especially middle aged and older people it’s all a lot to take in and can be very daunting. By providing services which teach people how to make the most of technology and their devices we can as librarians provide a valuable service. This also educates people about the benefits of libraries and shows they are not just a place to borrow books but an information hub that links people with the rest of the world.
September 6, 2015 at 3:48 pm #1646
Robynne Kilborne BlakeParticipant
Hi Lisa, I liked the story of your colleague – if it weren’t for my teenage sons I’d be in her boat for sure! In my middle years I find myself feeling unaccountably “old” in the face of the agilty with which they handle all kinds of tech, but I have to be grateful for the times that their skills dig me out of holes I find myself in. Surely I should be feeling the wisdom of my years 🙂 , but alas that is not the case. Hence my Masters in Information Science …. The point of these ramblings is that information and digital literacy are now skills that everyone must have – they are everyday skills. Medicare, Centrelink, ordering my groceries, reading the newspaper, communication with friends and family – these everyday tasks require digital information skills. Isn’t this what librarians have been doing all along? Helping people with access to information in one way or another. One of those ways is now via technology and there’s no escaping the reality that technology is increasingly linked to more and more aspects of our lives. I like your idea of libraries as information “hubs”. For me this well represents the way in which libraries can remain relevant, even crucial in our communities. Long live the limitless library!
September 6, 2015 at 8:12 pm #1667
I liked the story also although it was a little sad. It highlights that the digital literacy and the librarians role is often about communication. Being able to “ask the right questions” and being able to assist peopled to find the information they need.
The frustration of the iphone however could be so much more real for those less fortunate as the Web 2.0 reading points out. For many a lack of digital access and the knowledge to decipher the information means cycles of poverty are reinforced and those most vulnerable are unable to access education which is now mostly online or government services. It could mean for many being dependent on places like the library for any internet access at all and being isolated from necessary assistance fro single mothers families or newly arrives migrants.
The isolation created by the digital divide is very real and unfortunately only getting bigger.
September 9, 2015 at 7:34 am #1724
Hi Lisa! Really enjoyable post. I think your story demonstrated the unique skills of librarians as problem solvers. I am always amazed at the amount of information that people expect librarians to know, but I think that is a good thing, because as your story shows it means that we can differentiate ourselves and the services we provide and remain relevant to clients.
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