The precipice which is foremost right now in my mind is what to do about e-books. We are faced with Kindles, Nooks, Sony Ebook readers, iTouches, Follett e-books online, Netlibrary, Gale Virtual Reference Shelf, and all the various librarian-y reference book publishers e-book products.
In a high school, it’s pretty hard to get student attention long enough to direct users to all these different e-book sources. And you want to wait and see what settles out as the “standard” to avoid costly mistakes, but you want to take the leap into offering e-books as well.
This is really about change in general. Formats are changing so rapidly that in the last 2 years it’s been a sea-change in the way our library is used. Nonfiction sits on the shelf (for the most part) dormant, while fiction flies off of it. A good librarian has to watch those patterns and try to anticipate the next ‘chess’ move in terms of technology and student use.
Because fundamentally, the guiding rule here has to be our customers and what they will use. For students, the easier the better, and the more familiar the format the better. If e-books were on Facebook, I’d have no decision to make.
My sense is that Kindles and iTouch type devices will win out, dimly followed by e-books that we can completely integrate into our own online catalog.
Because for students, I believe the biggest issue will be mobility. Information has to be mobile for it to serve them well. Books, after all, are mobile. So whatever format “replaces” them needs to be portable, easily used, quickly accessed, and ubiquitious.
So, in the meantime, which way do we go? Beta or VHS? 8 track versus cassette? iTouches for everyone? The future is waiting for our students–we just have to figure out how we will deliver it!