iPads @ the Library

My library now has 6 iPads available for checkout. At this point, they’re pretty much still the “out of the box” version, with few apps installed. I’m working with a group of library staff and a student worker to determine which apps to install, and also to devise a user survey.

As expected, the iPads have checked out like hotcakes. If we had double the amount of iPads, they’d still all be checked out!

Students, faculty, and staff can check out an iPad on a first come, first serve basis. No reservations. We allow the iPads to leave the library. The loan period is 7 days.

Here’s the list of apps that I’m interested in installing. Do you have any suggestions?

Reference & Information

  • Dictionary.com (free)
  • EasyBib (free)
  • Epicurious (free)
  • Fandango Movies (free)
  • Google Earth (free)
  • Google Maps – comes installed
  • Google Search (free)
  • IMDB (free)
  • Kayak (free)
  • Periodic Table (free)
  • Shazam (free)
  • Urbanspoon (free)
  • The Weather Channel (free)
  • WebMD (free)
  • Wikipanion (free)


  • Evernote (free)
  • GarageBand ($4.99)
  • iMovie ($4.99)
  • Keynote (presentations) – purchased & installed ($9.99)
  • Mail – comes installed
  • Numbers (spreadsheets) – purchased & installed ($9.99)
  • Pages (word processing) – purchased & installed ($9.99)


  • Calendar – comes installed
  • Calculator Pro ($0.99)
  • Dragon Dictation (free)
  • Dropbox (free)
  • Mint.com (free)
  • Notes – comes installed

Social Media

  • Facebook (free)
  • Foursquare (free)
  • Skype (free)
  • Twitter (free)
  • Yelp (free)

Photography & Video

  • Camera – comes installed
  • FaceTime – comes installed
  • Instapad (free)
  • Photo Booth – comes installed
  • PS Express (Photoshop Express) (free)


  • Angry Birds HD Free (free)
  • Bejeweled Blitz (free)
  • Checkers (free)
  • Chess Free (free)
  • Fruit Ninja HD Lite (free)
  • Minesweeper (free)
  • NY Times Crosswords (free)
  • Pocket Piano (free)
  • Solitaire (free)
  • Sodoku Lite (free)
  • Temple Run (free)
  • TicTacFree (free)
  • Words with Friends HD Free (free)


  • ABC News (free)
  • BBC News (free)
  • Bloomberg (free)
  • CBS News for iPad (free)
  • CNET (free)
  • CNN (free)
  • ESPN ScoreCenter XL (free)
  • Flipboard (free)
  • Fox News (free)
  • Huffington Post (free)
  • MTV News (free)
  • Mashable (free)
  • NPR (free)
  • NY Times (free for “top news”)
  • The Onion (free)
  • Slate (free)
  • USA Today (free)
  • Washington Post (free)
  • WBAY, WLUK, WGBA (iPad apps of local TV stations – each are free)

Entertainment/Streaming Video & Audio

  • ABC Player (free)
  • Hulu Plus (free, but user needs Hulu subscription)
  • NBC (free)
  • Netflix (free, but user needs Netflix subscription)
  • Pandora (free)
  • PBS (free)
  • TED (free)
  • YouTube – comes installed

Books & Materials

  • Amazon Mobile (free)
  • CourseSmart (free)
  • Free Books (free)
  • iBooks (free)
  • Shakespeare (free)

Note: List modified, 2/27/2012

If you have experiences with iPads in the library, let me know! I’m looking for apps that would interest our students, faculty, and staff.

Also, if you’re thinking about getting iPads for your library, check out:

Setting Up a Library iPad Program – Sara Q. Thompson, College & Research Libraries News, April 2011

Tisch Library at Tufts University has some good information for their patrons about their loanable iPads.

Circulating iPads in an Academic Library – presentation by Jodi Bennett & Jessica Hutchings at the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 2011 Conference.

@ Your Library – iPads! – information, handouts, and videos from L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, WI.

Books as Art

There’s nothing more beautiful than books. Of course, I’m a librarian–so that is expected. But I love seeing how books can be used in non-traditional ways for art, sculpture, and other projects.

Kristi Edminster, an art student who is one of our library’s student workers, created this piece of book art, entitled “Booklovers’ Vows” for the library’s Miller Reading Room. The art piece honors the room’s donors and their love of books and reading. It reads:

Norman and Shirlyn Miller
spent 65 years
loving each other,
loving Green Bay

and loving nothing more
than sitting in a comfortable chair
in a quiet room and reading.

This room
reflects their love
and is gift from them
to the students of UWGB.

So, books just don’t belong in a library’s collection. They can be used as art, as sculpture–to create a very intense visual response as to what a library is all about. Here are a few of my other “favorites”–some sleek, some kitschy:

Reference desk of recycled books – not just art, but functional, too.

Library Christmas tree made of books – no needles!

Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library parking garage – ok, no real books–but book inspired. Dresses up a structure that is very utilitarian.

Isaac Salazar’s book art – amazing!

The Bittersweet Art of Cutting Up Books – And yes, some don’t like to see the cutting up of any books, but look at all of the creativity that comes from it.

Have something to share? Post it here!

Library Marketing Never Stops

Cambridge University Press announced yesterday that they will begin a new service that will allow users to “rent” their journal articles for 24 hours for $5.99. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog provides a good overview.

I’m loathe to make library users pay for ANYTHING. I always tell students in information literacy sessions: “If you’re doing a Google search and find an article you like, NEVER pay for it. The Library can get it for you for FREE!”

The Cambridge plan looks like something that would primarily be marketed to faculty and researchers. And I understand its “I need it now!” appeal. However, I hope that these professionals would remember that their academic library is there to help them. They may not be coming through the library gates, but they use the online resources that we subscribe to (e.g., JSTOR, EBSCO, etc…) and we’re the real, live people in that brick and mortar library that make it happen!

Libraries need to step up their marketing and outreach efforts to both faculty and students.

A few points to emphasize:

1. Libraries must continue to promote FREE access. That’s what we’re are all about. Most academic libraries can get these articles to their users for free. Many academic libraries will have direct full-text access via their databases.

2. For those libraries that do not have full-text access, there’s always Interlibrary Loan. At many academic libraries, it’s free to their users. Turnaround times have been decreasing over the past decade. At my institution, when I request an article, I generally receive a PDF copy of the article within 1-2 working days. And it’s mine to keep–FOREVER–unlike Cambridge’s 24-hour access plan.

3. Online Connections: Library websites need to be improved for functionality. It should only be one click to instant message chat, call, or email a librarian for assistance. This info should be available on every library webpage and every database search interface.

4. We need to step up outreach to faculty. Start making connections. See if you can attend a department meeting. Send out email blasts and online newsletters informing faculty of new resources and tools.

5. Besides reaching faculty, we need to market the library as a place that helps students succeed academically. That could be accomplished through librarian embedding in course management systems or designing class-specific library guides, tutorials, etc…

6. Open access: this is admittedly a loftier goal–but I think we need to start educating faculty about open access v. traditional publishing. Budgets are shrinking. Scholarly journal costs continue to rise. Journals are being canceled. What are the alternatives to traditional publishing? This is where librarians can definitely play a part.

Library marketing never stops. There’s always something new to promote, or a service to remind people of. It’s not a battle. It’s an opportunity. What other ideas and goals do you have for library marketing? I’d like to hear them!

Creating Current Events Guides

It’s been too long since my last blog post. Too many projects!

Well, I thought I’d blog about one of those projects: I’ve worked on creating research guides at my library that focus on current events. So far, I’ve done guides on the Occupy Movement, the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. It’s a good way to:

  • direct patrons to trustworthy information (e.g., the Wikipedia page for Occupy Wall Street is tagged for a “neutrality” check)
  • promote the library’s digital resources
  • spotlight books in the collection, and
  • demonstrate that the library is at the forefront of the ever-changing information environment

We use the popular LibGuides program at my institution. It’s easy to create individual guides and you have some flexibility for organizing your content. Of course, you could always create a simple webpage, too.

In my current events guides, I generally try to provide the following information:

  • Brief intro to the topic
  • Latest headlines (RSS feed via Google News or Yahoo News)
  • News & Media sources
  • Embedded Video (e.g., PBS Video–particularly Frontline and News Hour clips, C-SPAN Video Library, and CBS News allows embedding of its individual news clips)
  • Background Info (e.g., CQ Researcher database articles)
  • Catalog search & a few selected book titles on the topic
  • List of relevant databases to search for articles on the topic
  • Suggested keywords/search terms
  • Primary sources

Once you have the guide published, make sure and provide a direct link from your library homepage, and promote it on the library’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. If particularly pertinent, send out an email or contact individual faculty members/teachers.

There are lots of great examples of libraries that have put together current events guides. Here are a few select ones:

Know of a good current events guide? Share it here!

Love in the Stacks: Why Not?

The New York Times has a nice write-up about speed-dating nights held at public libraries. It includes an interview with a man who says he hasn’t stepped foot in a public library in years. It was also cute to read about the librarians that organize these events. They probably feel like high school teachers that chaperone the prom! The speed-dating participants were told to bring their favorite book:

Can Atlas Shrugged find love with the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test? Is attraction possible between a Jonathan Franzen reader and a die-hard Elizabeth Gilbert fan?

One of the libraries mentioned in the article is San Francisco Public Library. The San Francisco Chronicle has a good report of the event with a catchy headline: Singles Check One Another Out. The article talks up libraries “new” social aspects.

Now I know folks who say that this shouldn’t be part of a library’s mission, but the “community” is the library’s mission. If it’s something that can benefit the community, then why not?

It also reminds me of my favorite librarian/love anecdote. This is a true story:

A librarian is sitting at the reference desk. Behind her are large volumes of Chemical Abstracts (back when print was the only option!). In comes a chemistry professor. He walks up to the desk and asks her, “Do you have a background in chemistry?” Motioning behind her to the Chemical Abstracts, she says, “Why yes, I do!” The professor laughs. They started dating and ended up getting married.

Love in the stacks? This librarian approves.

Won’t that put you out of business? Library Adaptation

Over Christmas, I received a shiny new gift: a Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor e-reader. During vacation, I was showing family and friends my latest gadget when my (always astute) dad commented: Won’t that put you out of business?

Now there’s a question! Cue the elevator speech. How do libraries adapt to the e-reader market? The recent Borders bookstore bankruptcy (like the alliteration?), though attributed as much to mismanagement and missed opportunities, has also seen its sales done in with the public’s appetite for e-readers. Just last month, Amazon reported that its Kindle books have outsold paperback books. So, what’s a library to do?

  • Loan out e-readers – Let people test them out and decide what they like. Load some popular books onto the device and let users take it for a spin. Despite prices coming down, I still think of an e-reader as a ‘luxury item.’ Loaning out e-readers follows the library tradition of making materials accessible to everyone. The library at Southern New Hampshire University, where I used to work, loans out Amazon Kindles and Sony e-book readers. A user can select an e-book (library will purchase, up to $25) from the Amazon or Sony e-book store and the library loads the e-book onto the e-reader and checks it out to the patron. Of course the library lending of e-readers is a sticky wicket, as discussed by Peter Hirtle on LawLibrary Blog, Meredith Farkas in American Libraries, Audrey Watters on ReadWriteWeb, and even back to 2009 in Library Journal.
  • Library as the “public square” – this is not new, but WE know that. Does the general public? We must continue with our outreach and marketing efforts. How do we reach out to people like my dad who made the comment about putting libraries out of business? He rarely visits his local public library. But in fact the last time he DID visit was when he was invited to the library’s “hobby night” show. It featured townspeople and their hobbies–baseball cards, quilts, artwork, etc.  (my dad is an antique fishing lure collector). Libraries are historically busy during economic downturns. We need to emphasize our free services: books & media for check-out, community programs, computer classes, job hunting & resume help, etc. Just today, my city library – Appleton Public Library (WI) – was conducting or hosting: exercise classes, reading programs for children, crafting time, a movie screening (Secretariat), story time for autistic children, and a Wisconsin authors meet n’ greet. The “Anythink” libraries concept in Colorado is another great example (just don’t call me a guide; I’m a librarian!).
  • Learning and Technology – Libraries were one of the first institutions to bring the Internet as we know it to the masses. Keeping with this tradition is important, too. There are still a lot of people on the wrong side of the digital divide. A library helps provide access to computers and technology. Free public wi-fi at all libraries would be start–and a huge promotional tool for a community. But it takes fund raising, grants, and political lobbying to do it. I’d like to see more colleges and universities partnering with public libraries for services: the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library serving the city of San Jose, CA and San Jose State University; the Cole Library serving Mt. Vernon, IA and Cornell College; and Cy-Fair College Library, serving the Harris County (TX) Public Library system and one of the community colleges in the Lone Star College System, come to mind. Universities–particularly ones that may not have campuses located conveniently for working adults–should collaborate with public libraries for learning spaces. In academic libraries, offering up the latest software and technology to assist in collaborative student work should become a priority.

So, should libraries still buy paper books? Absolutely. That’s not going away. And it shouldn’t. But we need to reach out, adapt, and engage. What are your thoughts?