Wednesday, September 24, 2008

iPod Touch

SSLDL, always one to push the envelope in using technology for reference service, bought an iPod Touch last week! I am so far the only staff person to use it. I've practiced a bit (on real customers...) and I have some thoughts on this device as a reference tool.

First, it's small enough to carry around comfortably.

Second, it is big enough to share the screen with a patron.

Third, its wi-fi capabilities make the library catalog, databases, and the web fully accessible during a reference transaction, no matter where I am in the building.

Now, the down sides.

First, it is small enough to get lost easily. It hasn't happened yet, but I could easily set it down to look at a book with a patron and leave it sitting there. (I need to remember to wear clothes with pockets!)

Second, there is a lot of zooming in and out going on during the transaction. That makes it more difficult for the patron to follow along with the search, and takes a longer amount of time to complete the transaction.

Third, I put it in a nice leather carrying case to protect it, and I can't seem to get my fat finger far enough over to hit the right buttons on the edge! And I don't have fat fingers! The leather of the carrying case is just a tiny bit too close to the buttons I need to push on the edge of the screen that I can't get to them easily.

Fourth, I can't print from it. I can find all kinds of great articles for patrons, but I can't print them.

Overall, I like it. I think I like the Tablet PC better, though. The Tablet has more off-desk capabilities. It can be hooked up to a projector for teaching classes and it can be used to create MS Office files. The iPod can't, so its only usefulness is in the reference transaction (and for listening to music and watching movies, but that's just my fun time!) The Tablet is a LOT more expensive, though.

I'm glad we're trying it out and I will continue to put it to use, but we'll have to wait and see if we buy any more iPods for reference service. The rest of the reference staff will have to try it and see what they think.

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