Category Archives: Top Tech Trends

Scanning Library Cards on Smartphones from the Swiss Army Librarian

Don’t miss:

Patrons also use these apps for their library card numbers, and some libraries aren’t sure how to handle the library-card-on-smartphone situation. It hasn’t really come up in my library, but I know our traditional scanners won’t read barcodes off a smartphone screen. So, I thought I’d do some research to find out what it would take to accommodate these patrons.

The reason it doesn’t work is because traditional barcode scanners are designed to read laser light reflected off a solid surface. Smartphone screens are emitting light, so an entirely different technology is needed.

The scanners that can read barcodes on smartphones are called CCD scanners (what that stands for is less important than a short description or a compare/contrast between CCD and traditional laser scanners).

After learning this, I started looking around at the different models and costs of CCD scanners. I stumbled across a Quora post mentioning a company called FaceCash* whichsells scanners for $30. That’s cheap enough for experimentation, so I contacted Aaron Greenspan (FaceCash founder) and bought one.

And it worked. I plugged it into a computer’s USB port, held it up to an iPhone with a library card displayed on it, and Beep, the scanner read it just like it should. I’m always shocked when tech things work right out of the box. And happily, the scanner also reads** regular barcodes too.

So now, for just $30, my library can accommodate those patrons who make their lives easier*** through mobile technology.

I have started to carry more and more of my cards in my iPhone. Make sure to read the whole post and comments for some good information and interesting discussion about this shift.

Office Hours Extra: What’s On the Horizon? Emerging Technologies & Key Trends

Don’t miss the new Horizon Report!

Since 2002 the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives have released the yearly Horizon Report, which “introduces six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use within three adoption horizons over the next five years” in the realm of learning and inquiry.

The last few editions of the report have highlighted these trending technologies: social computing and personal broadcasting (2006); social networking and user generated content (2007); “grassroots video” and collaboration webs (think free and easy online tools) (2008); mobile devices and cloud computing (2009). The 2010 edition featured mobile computing and open content. All of these concepts are probably familiar to you and we can safely say the authors and advisors who create the report each year are spot on with many if not all of their choices.

This year the report identifies these six technologies on the adoption horizon: electronic books and mobiles in one year or less, augmented reality and game-based learning in two to three years, and gesture-based computing and learning analytics in four to five years.

Beyond technologies to watch are some key trends the group monitors year to year, including:

People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want.

The world of work is increasingly collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured.  (page 3)

And these are some key challenges:

Appropriate metrics of evaluation lag behind the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.

Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of the university.

Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike. (page 4)

Finally, the concept of learning analytics offers a future where a student’s education is custom tailored for their lives, learning styles and pursuits via “data mining, modeling and interpretation (p. 28).” It only follows that the K-12 and academic libraries might also better serve their users with an understanding of an individual’s learning profile.

Exploring Transliteracy: A TTW Guest Post by Jessica Thomson

Transliteracy: 21st century literacy


It is clear that technology is creating a large change in the ways we communicate and get information within our culture.  This great change affects not only individuals, but also the institutions that make information available, such as libraries and universities.  For a very long time, the essential modes of human communication remained unchanged. Having the ability to read, write, and speak more or less ensured that one possessed the necessary tools to communicate effectively within our culture.  With the explosion of new technologies that affect the way in which we accomplish so many of our daily tasks, a communication divide is occurring between those who communicate across many platforms seamlessly and those who do not.  While the behavior of transliteracy has been around for a long time, the study of it as a concept is new.  Many reports and articles have been written about the need for transliterate behaviors to become the norm in order to keep lines of communication open and keep the exchange of information flowing.  Researchers are also trying to understand how learning and comprehension are affected by this shift to a highly digital lifestyle.  Librarians need to be invested in the spreading of transliteracy because it affects their ability to assist patrons and provide information.  A new divide is emerging in the 21st century. It is no longer the divide between those who can read and those who cannot; it is now a divide between those who can access and understand digital information and those who cannot.  The library has a role in bridging this new literacy divide.

What is transliteracy?

Transliteracy is defined  by Sue Thomas, a professor of new media at De Monfort University, as “the capacity to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio, and film, to digital social networks.” As a behavior, transliteracy is not a new phenomenon.  However, the identification of transliteracy as a concept to be studied is a recent development, largely due to the new ways in which the Internet and other technologies allow for communication in ways that were not previously imagined.  It is a broad term that encompasses and transcends many existing concepts.  Some of these existing concepts include media literacy and digital literacy, which are contained within the definition of transliteracy.

The term transliteracy comes from the verb “transliterate,” which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “replacing (letters or characters of one language) by those of another used to represent the same sounds; to write (a word, etc.) in the characters of another alphabet.”  This is an apt definition for the ways in which new technologies are replacing the traditional ways and means of communicating and learning.

It is no longer enough to only be able to read and write in order to communicate effectively.  Individuals need to be able to access and understand digital information across many different and continually-evolving platforms in addition to the traditional formats we are all accustomed to.  Transliteracy is concerned with the social meaning of literacy and the participatory nature of new means of communicating.  Additionally, transliteracy is unique in combining and democratizing communication formats, expressing no partiality for one over another, while stressing the social construction of meaning via diverse media. However, it should be noted that no group has yet to publish a definition of what specific skills are necessary to be transliterate.

Transliteracy and the library

Transliteracy is a relatively new term, and while many library professionals may not be aware of the term per se, it does not mean that librarians are not participating in transliterate practices during daily interaction with patrons.  While the concept of transliteracy is evolving and the definition may therefore shift over time, transliteracy is about understanding the ways and means of communication interaction and the skills needed to navigate from one medium to another.  It is about the convergence of media types and the experience of engaging with the world in a multi-modal manner.

The lack of a list of skills needed to be transliterate leaves librarians without an understanding of the relationship that libraries will have with transliteracy.  Libraries have information literacy standards, but it is uncertain whether these will be enough to support the growth of research regarding the means in which people communicate and produce content across various media.

The library can add value to existing resources by allowing patrons to contribute to knowledge bases.  Social construction of knowledge can take place in many different ways, from allowing tagging of additional terms in the library catalog to consultation of under-identified objects in special collections.  The transliterate world changes the assumption that authority is unidirectional and comes only from established channels.

Librarians should keep abreast of future developments concerning transliteracy because it concerns many of the concepts at the heart of librarianship.  Librarians can incorporate new ideas about transliteracy into the ways that they help patrons access, understand, and create information.  Additionally, these social networks and other forms of multi-media can create a means of knowledge sharing to enhance the user experience.



For libraries to be able to assist users with transliterate needs, the library and librarians need to be active in a transliterate manner.  A new digital divide is emerging in the 21st century between those who can access and understand digital information and those who cannot.  The library has a role to play in bridging this divide.  Computers need to be accessible, and access, especially to social media sites, cannot be blocked.  Libraries cannot look upon social media sites as bad; they are a means of communication and information exchange.  Libraries should offer the ability to access and create across a broad range of platforms and networks.

This means that librarians must keep abreast of ever changing technologies and the newest and latest ways to interact digitally.  Librarians will need to create personal learning environments that allow for the exploration of new and unknown platforms and tools.  Librarians will have to be flexible enough to learn new tools, experiment with social media sites, and try out new technologies.  This is a tall order.  But it is not insurmountable.

For example, librarians could meet formally or informally to share information about personal gadgets, such as e-readers, so that they will understand when users approach with issues in downloading e-books from the library collection.  The learning group could create accounts on social media sites to test out the many tools within the site.  Testing out social media sites in this way could assist librarians in explaining privacy settings, or additional features for the site.  Understanding the applications available on the computers in the library could help librarians assist users with creating content.  This is a natural extension of learning the library’s print collection or offering of online databases.

As the concept and understanding of transliteracy and its impact on humans is being researched and developed, it is important for librarians to remain aware of new research and reports.  This will ensure that libraries are equipped to assist patrons with this new form of literacy for the 21st century, transliteracy.


Ipri, Tom. 2010.  Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News 71(10), 532-567.

Newman, Bobbi L.  2010. Libraries and Transliteracy Slideshow. [Slideshare slides]. Retrieved from Libraries and Transliteracy Web Site:

Thomas, Sue, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Mills, Simon Perril, and Kate Pullinger. 2007.   Transliteracy: Crossing divides.  First Monday. 12(12).

Jessica Thomson is a graduate student at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, graduating in May 2011.  She is also the Metadata Assistant with the Digital Collections Department at Northwestern University Library.

Using Foursquare to Reach New Audiences

Jasper Visser writes at Museum of the Future:

Our new website, and especially its integration of Google Maps, made it easy to add stories from our website to relevant places in Foursquare. About a month ago I’ve added 15 stories as tips to Foursquare. And it seems to work! Some of the tips have been done relatively often and between 0.05 and 0.1 % of our website traffic (wow!) now comes from Foursquare.

Here’s what I did (and/or should have done, looking back):

  1. I looked for things on our website (stories, etc.) directly related to a location.
  2. Then I looked for a venue on Foursquare at this location with a lot of check-ins (train stations seem to work best) and preferably not too much tips.
  3. I added a tip with the main body of the information of the story (the length of a tip is limited, so even when you add the core of your message it works like a teaser).
  4. To the tip, I added a URL. The last couple of them I’ve given the extra attribute ?source=4sq to be able to measure them in Google Analytics. (There’s no other way to measure the traffic from Foursquare as far as I know).
  5. I measure success using a special Advanced Segment for Foursquare (using the ?source=4sq).

I believe train stations are especially useful, because people spend time waiting at these places (opposed to for instance in a bar). Our most successful tip I added to a station and the attached story was about that station. The second most successful one deals with the history of brewing beer.

Surprisingly, it’s not only fun facts (such as the beer) that draw traffic. Also the more heavy historical tips draw traffic.

I appreciate these insights and Jasper’s grounded, useful take on geosocial/geospatial information.

Kista Idea Lab Mobile Music Walk

The bold emphasis is mine:

A World Music Walk in the multilingual, multitalented and multitechnological Kista

Kista is like no other place – share a multi-special experience with us, where the mobile technology opens doors to the world music!

Join us on a fascinating journey where the world’s musical diversity meets the technical innovation that is so unique to Kista. Nowhere else in the world are so many world-leading innovation companies gathered side by side with a unique variety of musical, linguistic and cultural skills.
The Mobile World Music Walk is about getting to know the possibilities with the new mobile technology together and discovering the storytelling behind the living world music.

Mobile Music Walk
– on
– on

Thursday, November 25th 11am to 12:30pm
Sunday, November 28th 11am to 12:30pm

We meet up at the Kista library for a technical introduction. Then we start walking with our cell phones in our hands!

Read more about the music walk on
Kista World Music Festival’s website
Kista Idea Lab’s project blog

The Mobile World Music Walk is a cooperation project between
Kista Idea Lab
Kista World Music Festival
Mobile Life Centre

I’m impressed with this initiative from Sweden. What a great way to tie the library to an event and show off some merging technologies.

QR Codes Connect Students to Books

I used this as an example yesterday for the Michigan school librarians:

“I realized how often I see them in public and I wanted to give [students] an awareness of them,” says Brook Forest’s school librarian, John Schumacher, referring to QR codes, two-dimensional barcodes that can be read using a camera on a smartphone. “They were coming up with lots of ideas of what they could make: business cards, links to their online accounts, and creating further designs.”

But first, Schumacher had the students write mini book lists and reviews, and then QR code their suggestions so other students could see what they liked. The popular school librarian—who posts online the number of books he reads each year along with authors he’s met—is big on getting books into kids’ hands. He even papers lockers and bathrooms at Brook Forest with posters marketing the latest title that’s arrived in the library. When the poster goes up in the bathroom, students know they can start reserving a new book.

“And I know they’re reading in the bathrooms,” Schumacher says. “Because they come in and tell me something I’ve only posted in there. I’ve pretty much taken over the school.”

Disclaimer: John is a Dominican GSLIS grad and I had the privilege to have him in three classes.

Are we ready?

Joshua Kim has a nice piece on reading with a Kindle:

But if Amazon is smart, and Bezos seems very smart to me, than I’m sure that the Kindle experience will continue to improve. We are not there yet, but the end of the future of the printed book format is in sight. The printed book will continue to live on, as either a high-end speciality item (as a tactile object and work of art) and a low-end mass market item, but the center for the printed book cannot hold. By the time my kids are both in college (2017), the majority of new book sales will be digital.

Is your campus ready for this transition?

Universities, K-12 and libraries are all grappling with this question of transition. I’m excited to see what happens.

My reading has changed with the Kindle app on my iPad as well as Instapaper. I’m also having a bit of technolust about adding the new Kindle to my options for e-reading. :-)

The Future of the Book

Via Perpetual Beta:

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

Meet Nelson, Coupland, and Alice — the faces of tomorrow’s book. Watch global design and innovation consultancy IDEO’s vision for the future of the book. What new experiences might be created by linking diverse discussions, what additional value could be created by connected readers to one another, and what innovative ways we might use to tell our favorite stories and build community around books?

My first thought was the power of Coupland to enable group reading lists, shared libraries and easy connections would be perfect for faculty and students. Nelson would be perfect for following trends and staying in the know. Alice intrigues me the most and points toward that concept we’ve heard about – social, non-linear narratives across multiple channel and media. Good stuff!

My question – how can libraries play a role in all three?

Fast, Open, and Transparent: Developing the Smithsonian’s Web and New Media Strategy

A flurry of work today getting ready for classes! Don’t miss this from the Smithsonian’s Michael Edson:

Michael Edson: Fast, Open, and Transparent: Developing the Smithsonian’s Web and New Media Strategy

View more documents from Michael Edson.
This is a most useful document for designing our own Web and new media strategies for libraries and other institutions. Careful articulation of “pain points” followed by an ongoing, transparent strategic plan seems to me to be a formula for success – especially with layers of administration.