Monica152's Blog

Thoughts on libraries, technology, and learning

eReaders and libraries (learning blog 11)

So, with the advent of Black Friday and the nightmare of holiday shopping upon us, the world of eReaders has gone crazy.  A few weeks back, I found a wonderful comparison chart that lists various brands of readers and the pros and cons of both of them.  Additionally, there are accompanying blogs that go into even more detail.

Now, you can simply do a google search on “eReader comparison charts” and get a ton of hits, but what I like about this specific one is that it is the only one I have ever found that includes compatibility with library downloads as a major selling point for the devices.  This is simply brilliant!  If I didn’t work at a library, I would look at the various devices out there – and most of the comparison charts rank the Kindle as the best reader by a long shot – price, ease of use, customer reviews, etc.  But guess what?  There are only a few devices that are completely incompatible with the formats used in libraries, and the Kindle is one of them.  For all of it’s supposed superiority over other brands, the fact that it cannot support library downloads is, to me, a huge detraction.

For a library to have this information is crucial, because we get asked about these devices all the time.  I just had a gentleman who came in asking about eReaders and wanted to know how he would know which ones had changeable font sizes – as he is a little older and his vision isn’t so good (almost all models feature some degree of changeable font size, so this factor doesn’t help narrow down choices very much).

Our library has formed an eReader committee – a group of people that will make policies, publish guides to the staff web, and be responsible for communicating how we, as a library system, will handle questions, guide users through the download process, etc.  I think they might even be working on creating some sort of tutorial that library customers could access through the website.

The thing is, this committee formed back in August (or thereabouts) and so far, we have heard nary a word from them.  And the questions are coming in fast and furious and pretty much on a daily basis.  I took the information that I found in the above-mentioned chart, combined it with a few of the things found on other charts, and created a simple spreadsheet that we can use at the library to answer questions or even to just let customers see at a glance why one reader might be more appropriate for them than another.

What is sad is that I did this on my own, without sanction by the eReader committee, so it isn’t “official,” nor can it be disseminated  other buildings or shared with other librarians.  I would likely get in trouble and be reprimanded, rather than commended for taking the initiative to do this.  In fact, I know I would, so I continue to play like a good little girl and try to remember my place (very bottom of the barrel – no voice, no authority).  It saddens me that I feel this way about my place of work and that I struggle to feel like I can freely offer my knowledge, my experience, my ideas and the valuable information I am learning through this program.  Whether this is a fault with the library, or limitations I have imposed upon myself, I am not sure.  What I do know is that I long for an environment in which I feel valued, welcomed, worthy and appreciated.

But then, isn’t that what we all want?

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