Friday, December 11, 2009

oh, if only they knew...

I don't know what kind of librarian I am. I'm not even sure if I know what a librarian is anymore. Or if I ever knew.

But I'm pretty confident that no librarian is really sure of what she should be doing to serve the public, to build and maintain the library collection, to feel useful.

Probably like your library, our library attempts to be more "welcoming" and to "maintain its relevance" by offering things like downloadable audiobooks and ebooks to our customers.

And I don't think that most people (or librarians) even understand how these new technologies can isolate them (the customers), frustrate them, and make them feel that the library is, in fact, irrelevant. And that they, the customers, are unwelcome.

I get emails every week from library patrons who are upset that they purchased some thingamajig that doesn't work with what we offer them. Instead of finding out how they will use the device and then purchasing the best hunk of crap that fills those needs, they blindly buy what some commercial tells them to buy and then blame us for not supporting their ill-informed hardware choices.

So it made me a little giddy when I read this article where someone gets it and explains it all for you:

"To help you sort through the muddle, we've explained below how the library's
media downloads work with some of the most popular portable devices...
iPhones and iPods: There's good and bad news,...[it] works with iPhones and iPods plugged into PCs, not Macs.
Blackberries, Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices: If you own one of these gizmos,... Your device can read Denver Library eBooks -- some of them, anyway.
Android phones: Suckers!
Sony Reader: Well, look at you, fancy-pants Sony Reader owner. Your little
thingamabob can read all of the library's eBooks, not to mention to its MP3-style audio books.

Joel Warner, Denver Westword, an independent weekly paper, so there's probably no reason
why I should give them a writing credit..

As you can see, it's nearly impossible to know which devices work and which won't, and then whether they might work in the future with software or firmware upgrades or patches or apps or cracks or...

All this crap, of course, diverts money from the purchase of print materials. The stuff we are told that no one wants anymore. But the stuff that pretty much everyone knows how to use. Go figure.