I devoted the majority of my last day to Mobile Handheld devices since my knowledge was really lacking in this arena. Overall, the presentations were really good. Here are some tidbits of knowledge I gleaned from them.
- There are so many wonderful devices now available in the marketplace. My favorite was the cell phone that opened up to a television screen. You could watch videos on it. It even had Picture in Picture.
- Most websites do not render well for small screens(called Mobile Optimized Web). If you want to offer your website information services to the small screen crowd, you will need to design your website using another scripting technology such as WAP. This scripting technology strips down the website to just text and a few graphics.
- There are tools that will take sites like the ntrls page and strip it down to its component parts. The one mostly mentioned is squeezer.com. I have yet to try it, but plan to soon.. Of course, some companies hate these tools because they don't render their website well.
- Text messaging is the most popular way to convey information on a cell phone. If you want to reach the younger crowds, you have to figure out a way to get the information to them in this fashion. 4Info has done a really great job of this. This company has an open interface at http://open.4info.net that allows people to open their data services up to SMS inquiries. You can select a keyword such as NTRLS and then tell 4Info what information to send if they receive that keyword in a text message. For example, for NTRLS we might send them data about our member libraries. A user then would send the code @ntrls to 4INFO's text messaging number and 4INFO would send a response back about our libraries. Pretty slick material....
- Ask.com and other search engines have WAP enabled websites for handheld devices. Try them, practice them and then let your patrons know about them.
- Ball State University built a WAP version of their website including their catalog. Lot's of development time and effort, not to mention, they received a grant to do it. Still, it is nicely done. You can access their work at http://www.bsu.edu/libraries/mobile/.
Overall, I think handheld devices are gaining prominence in the US and public libraries need to begin to address them. In my mind, the public libraries should collaborate with university libraries to build mobile interfaces. Since so many students today are exposed to this type of service at the University level, it would be nice for public libraries to say, "Hey you don't have to lose this type of service just because you are not at school anymore. We offer the same." In fact, this is a good reason to collaborate with University libraries on any of the services offered.
The closing keynote was about gaming and libraries. Elizabeth Lane Lowley from RIT gave it. Very interesting. She gave some examples of how games are being played today. Traditional game playing is being mixed with an online environment. People are given game directions online to do something in the real world. Cruel2bekind is an example. People are given points based on the good deeds they do in real life. Another one is called tombstone Hold Em where people get poker hands based on the type of tombstone they can find in a cemetery. Gaming has always been so popular and it has taken off online in the last twenty years. It is time for public libraries to look at how they can engage their patrons using games. Anybody up for a library scavenger hunt!!!!
Try out 42 entertainment for some ideas on gaming.