Go wild with our zoo!

Orangutan and tablet

Apologies to subscribers to this blog: in my previous post on the 7th, I said I would be absent the following Monday (the 14th) due to the holiday. I was away at the New England Library Association conference on the 21st, and was doing my best not to share my copious supply of germs during my time there, and did not provide an article. So it’s been two weeks since I’ve shared with you, my adoring followers.

Something that I did share while I was there as an exhibitor for the Maine State Library was the debut of our long-awaited technology petting zoo. What’s a technology petting zoo? As we’ve envisioned it, it’s a selection of e-readers, media devices and tablets that represent the bigger names in each category, from which a library may selectively borrow for purposes of digital literacy education, either for their staff or patrons.

It’s all based off of the initiative that began almost a year ago, when Janet McKenney (my supervisor) and I traveled around Maine to several different locations, informing libraries of upcoming national initiatives such as the EveryoneOn Ad Council campaign. It was also our chance to take the pulse of what librarians throughout the state wanted for training in digital literacy training.

One of the most resounding ideas was the ability to have a collected pool of devices that represented the breadth of technology librarians were confronted with by patrons and asked to instruct on their use. Many libraries don’t have the resources to afford such devices, and even those that could found themselves needing to “catch up” with newer versions. Could the Maine State Library, our librarians wondered, support such a collection?

This is our emphatic reply: yes. In the form of six different types of devices: the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite, the Nook SimpleTouch, the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nook HD+, the Apple iPad Mini, and the Google Nexus. The first two are pure e-readers, meant for consumption of e-books. The next two are what I have termed “media devices”, somewhere between the specific nature of e-readers but also shy of full tablet status. The last two are tablets, representing both the Apple and Android ecosystems.

Devices alone do not constitute training, and so we’ve taken another step: these devices come with objective-based training pamplets, detailing basic operation of the devices as well as an overview of some of the primary tasks a beginning user might need to know, such as connecting to a wireless network. We’re also offering education in the form of a trainer to accompany the zoo and train either the staff or provide an event for patrons to attend.

We’re very proud of the petting zoo, and have already had a successful deployment, courtesy of Kate Pickup-McMullin at Southwest Harbor Public Library. They borrowed five of each of our iPad Minis and Google Nexuses, deployed them to their staff, and offered events for patrons to learn about the devices from the staff.

Further details about the zoo can be found here, including the links to the use policy, schedule, request form and feedback form. We’re hoping many Maine libraries will take advantage of the zoo. How about your library?

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One comment on “Go wild with our zoo!

  1. Pingback: 2014: the year of the loud librarian | Maine Techsplorers

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