On Jan. 22, 2013, the American Library Association (ALA), recognized five libraries for offering cutting-edge technologies in library services, such as mobile digital learning tools and digital content.
The recognition, presented by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy and the Library & Information Technology Association (LITA), showcases libraries that are serving their communities using novel and innovative methods, according to a press release.
“This year’s winners represent creative and cost-effective engagement with technology trends including BYOD [bring your own device], augmented reality, e-government, crowd-sourcing, and online learning,” said Marc Gartler, branch manager of the Madison Public Library in the press release. Gartler also chaired the selection subcommittee. “We are excited to recognize these fantastic projects and believe they have the potential to be replicated by many libraries across the country.”
1. In Boston, Boston College High School’s Corcoran Library's mobile initiative is designed to showcase the library’s online resources through mobile sites and apps optimized for mobile searching. Boston College High's new cell phone policy allows students to use their cell phones for research purposes in the library, and librarians orient students to the new mobile resources through the school iPads and the students’ smart phones. The goal is to foster an understanding of how these digital learning tools can enhance student information literacy experiences.
2. In New York City, the Goethe-Institut New York Library partnered with the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science to develop German Traces NYC -- a "mobile experience that uses an augmented reality app to allow learners to explore German cultural heritage in New York City," according to the ALA. After downloading the app, users hold up their mobile phones and view archival photos layered on top of the images visible through the phone’s camera. The mobile experience also features archival documents, photographs, and multimedia narratives. It also allows users to create a custom walking tour via GPS and access multimedia content.
3. In Tucson, Ariz., the University of Arizona Libraries, launched Guide on the Side, an open-source software package that librarians worldwide can download and use to quickly and easily create online, interactive tutorials based on principles of authentic and active learning. The University of Arizona Libraries have developed more than 25 tutorials using the tool, and these tutorials received nearly 73,000 uses in one year. Other libraries have installed the software, strated creating tutorials and joined a discussion group to continue improving the software.
4. In Orlando, Fla., the Orange County Library System's Right Service at the Right Time (RS/RT) mobile optimized website addresses a growing need for public libraries to aid patrons who are seeking government assistance, which is increasingly accessible only online. "RS/RT uses a database-driven decision-making engine to connect people in need of government and non-profit public services with the appropriate provider," according to the press release. In 2012, the service expanded from five to 36 Florida counties, and it had more than 10.3 million total page views.
5. In Le Roy, N.Y., the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership School Library System addressed two needs of rural schools -- improved access to digital content and a way to do this with drastic budget cuts. The library system created a Drupal website called WEBOOKS that allows librarians across 22 school districts to "pool together a portion of their individual library materials aid while maintaining control over spending through a participatory selection process." By purchasing together, the system purchased more e-books than each could have afforded individually, and the project demonstrated to administrators that the libraries are working together to find creative solutions. Several districts provided additional funds because of the project's promise.