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Dad. Dude. Librarian
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Post Holiday eBook Clinics Wrap Up

3 min read

I wrapped up another round of eBook clinics last night. The attendance more than DOUBLED from the pre Christmas eBook clinics. The total number of people who came to the clinics this round was 213. In Nov/Dec it was 98.

When we scheduled this round of eBook clinics I knew a lot of people would be getting eReaders/tablets over the holidays. I had no idea that the number nearly doubled across the country. I’m glad we scheduled this round of eBook clinics. With so many people getting a new digital reading device there was a new segment of our population that needed help using our digital collection.

Learning to use our OverDrive collection was the main reason people attended the sessions. We covered the basics of using the collection by checking out books in the Kindle and ePub formats and an audiobook. After checking out each format I loaded the title on a device. During the process I discussed some of the differences between formats (Kindle/ePub, WMA/MP3) and why they matter. I informed everyone about the software many of them would need to use the collection – Adobe Digital Editions (ePub eBooks), OverDrive Media Console (audiobooks) – and the Adobe ID that is also required for many devices. I placed a hold and told everyone about the 72 hour window of claiming that hold. We went through the ‘My Account’ features explaining what each one does and why they are useful. It was a very quick demo with a lot of information.

One of the things I stressed at each session was the dependence we have on publishers. I told the attendees about the restrictions some publishers invoke and how two big publishers don’t let any library lend their eBooks. We talked about the reason why they had to place holds on digital content that should be available to download at anytime. Digital Rights Management was explained as well as possible.

Questions from the attendees were welcome at any time during the demonstration. There were many and sometimes other people jumped in to help answer them. It was great.

The entire demonstration of our collection including the discussion about publishers and DRM usually took a little over an hour. After that, people who had device issues had the opportunity to ask me (or the branch staff) questions and hopefully get their questions answered. Many people took advantage of this. Most people left after the initial demo/discussion.

It was a good experience and I’m starting to schedule monthly eBook clinics for our clusters. These will start in March.

The vast majority of people who came out were 50+ with most being 60+. They were all eager to learn. I hope I helped raise their comfort level with the library, our digital collection and their device(s).


My eBook Clinic Experience

3 min read

I wrapped up my first round of eBook Clinics last night and it has been quite the experience. I went to all of the libraries in my library system (8) and over the past 4 weeks to try and help people in my community learn more about eBooks, eReaders and our digital collection. I think it was pretty successful.

98 people attended the 8 sessions. The attendance varied by location, 27 was the most and 3 was the fewest. The people that attended were mostly retirees. There were some younger people and I even had one father and son (5th or 6th grade) attend at one location. Some had devices, most were looking to buy one.

The people with devices asked a lot of questions about how to use our digital collection. I was able to help most of them become more comfortable with the process of browsing the collection, checking something out and getting it on their device. I also did a bit of troubleshooting.

The people looking to buy a device were looking to learn more about the different devices available. We spent a lot of time talking about the difference between eReaders and tablets. We discussed Kindles, Nooks and the other options. There was a lot of talk about how Kindles are different from other eReaders.We adapted some information from here into a handout that I think was kinda helpful for people looking to buy a device.

We also talked about how our digital collection is controlled in large part by the publishers. Many of the people who attended the clinics had no idea that we are limited in what we can purchase and provide to them. I hope I was able to explain (nicely?) that there will be some titles that we will be unable to provide no matter what. Why? Because the publishers won’t let us. I got the impression they understood this and accepted that we are trying to provide the best collection possible.

It was a good experience! I enjoy getting out of the office, visiting our libraries, seeing some friends and meeting new people. It's also good to be able to help demystify something for people. I'm not an expert but I know enough to help most of the people who attended the eBook clinics.

I’ve got a post Christmas round of eBook clinics scheduled for January/February and will start preparing for it very soon…like today.


A lot of work to do

4 min read

RreadWriteWeb's interesting experience with Facebook Connect and frustrated Facebook users was an interesting example of how 'ordinary' people use the internet.

Many of the commenters on the post didn't actually read it. It's an interesting bit about how Facebook and AOL are working together to integrate Facebook contacts into AOL instant messaging contacts. But that's not what made this post so popular.

It turns out that many people searched for "Facebook Login" in Google, clicked on one of the first returns, scrolled down to the familiar Facebook logo to sign in to Facebook and...nothing. They simply signed in to leave a comment on the post at RWW. Outraged that Facebook had changed the log in, many of these people left unhappy (to put it nicely) comments about how bad the 'new' Facebook is. Many of the comments left are funny, if you look at it in a "OMG I can't believe they didn't notice it was Facebook" way. If you look at this from an educator's perspective its kind of sad. I'll discuss that more below.

In a follow up post RWW listed four things they learned from the experience. They discuss the things that should have let these people know that they were not actually on Facebook. The points seem obvious to most people but they weren't obvious to the few hundred who thought they were logging in to Facebook. Its a thoughtful post about how a lot of people don't use the web the way many designers intend or think they should. One quote really stands out to me:

And most of them have no idea what a web browser is or how it differs from a search engine or a social network. They've chosen to be smart about other things, like building cars or making art or raising families. I'll bet some of them are terrific dancers. We have to build the Web for them, too.

I'm glad they said that. It would have been very easy for them to just sit back and laugh at all the people who couldn't tell the difference between their site and Facebook. It seems to me they are at least being thoughtful about how 'ordinary' people are using the web. As someone who interacts with the public every day I see many people who would have easily done the same thing the commenters in the original post did. We have a lot of work to do to educate these people about the Internet and how it works.

This is an education process that will probably never really end. I taught an 'Introduction to the Internet' class last month and spent a good 20-30 minutes explaining the difference between a browser and a search engine. This wasn't part of the class it was simply a question that came up...a few times. We teach this class multiple times in the library system every month. We've been teaching it for at least 8 years. It is still a popular class.

Just like everything else, you have to learn your way around a computer and the Internet. This takes exposure and time. Many people I see everyday are busy doing other things and don't have the time I do to learn about the wonderful world of technology. The people that take our computer classes are not dumb because they don't know how the Internet works they are just inexperienced. At least they are in a class wanting and willing to learn. It is my job to make sure they are more comfortable with the computer/Internet after the class than they were before it. From the looks of RWW's post, I've got a lot of work to do.