Brought to you by the letter E

All things E.

E-books, E-readers, E-mail.

New electronic technology has been on my mind recently. My regular readers (Hi Mom and Rachel M.!) are probably saying, “Ms. Sara E-technology is SO 2006! Where have you been?!” Well, for one thing I was in library school, working two jobs, getting married, starting my career, and buying a house.  I didn’t have time to blog about E-technology, but I was still using it and learning about it!

So why am I ready to blog about it now? Other people have talked to me about it a lot. A lot of people got a lot of E-devices over Christmas and have called and come into the library with questions. I was also asked to do an E-books seminar, so that got me thinking about how I feel about all of this.

Even though I am a proud member of Generation Y (whatever that means!) I have always been slightly skeptical of certain technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology! I am only skeptical of technology when it comes to children. Since I spend most of my time with children or thinking about children, I have some concerns about technology created for children. All the experts say that children should not have too much screen time. No TV under two!A lot of the gadgets that come out are super neat, but they don’t directly apply to what I spend 37.5 hours a week doing.

However, since I also work with adults and have a great deal of interest in using educational technology with older students, I decided that instead of just learning about this technology and tucking it away in my brain for later use or use with adults and older students, I would write a blog about my opinion of some E-technology things. It is not an expert opinion. It’s just what I think based on my friendships with experts in child development (Moms) and my experiences at the library.

E-Readers and E-Books

Since I grew up reading physical print books and I’m a Librarian, most people probably think I hate E-books. Or maybe you think I’m scared E-books will replace my library books, and then all Librarians (including me) will soon be replaced by robots.

Well, guess what? I LOVE E-books! I also LOVE E-readers. So that should teach you about stereotypes! I don’t own one myself because I haven’t gotten around to getting one (it only took my husband and I 4 years to buy smartphones we like technology but we’re slow to merge it into our personal lives). However, we have a few at the library and my family members own them. I like E-books and E-readers for a lot of reasons. Here are a few:

1. Convenient. Digital books and readers give a slew of people more and easier access to information. Since I’m a Librarian, I’m a huge fan of access to information. In my library, many seniors are purchasing these devices because they can have instant access to books when they can’t drive, walk, or take the bus to the library or book store. They also don’t have to carry a whole pile of heavy physical books around with them. A lot of our patrons in this category read about 5,000 books a week (or so) and it’s really hard to carry that many books. E-readers hold several books and you don’t have to worry about late fees. When you use your public library to borrow E-books, the books are automatically returned.

2. Manipulative. Digital content viewed on E-readers can often be manipulated. I mean, you can make print larger or smaller. You can look up words you don’t understand just by clicking (or touching them) and get an instant dictionary definition. You can view translations. You can add a bookmark when you don’t have a piece of toilet paper, a ripped out page of a magazine or your electric bill handy (or are those just the kind of bookmarks I use?). You can add notes even when you don’t have pen and paper around. All of these fall under the Convenient category too.

3.Appeal. I think digital books and devices are super cool to children, teens, and tweens and if reading on something cool makes you read, then I’m  behind that!

4. Support. You can still support your local library and “check out” E-books. So don’t worry, we don’t get offended and it doesn’t hurt our feelings. We’re down with the new technology!

5. E-Ink. I often hear “I couldn’t possibly read a book on a screen!” Well, guess what? With E-ink technology, a lot of E-readers are not like reading on a screen. What is it? According to the E-Ink website, ” E-ink is the optical component of a film used in Electronic Paper Displays. Although futuristic-sounding, electronic ink is actually a straightforward fusion of existing knowledge of chemistry, physics and electronics to create this new material. It’s so much like paper, it actually utilizes the same pigments used in the printing industry today.”  (it’s one of those things I can’t really explain but it’s awesome and I could make something up about how it works or you could read about it on their website here: http://www.eink.com/technology.html) The E-Ink display looks just like paper, there’s no eyestrain and you can still read it in direct sunlight. Sweet.  There are some color E-readers that use lcd displays. This is something to keep in mind when purchasing an E-reader. Not all devices use E-Ink.

Drawbacks:

E-Readers can be expensive. Some are more affordable than others.

Not all books are available in digital formats. Some are expensive to buy and there aren’t billions of books available to borrow from your library (yet).

Not really for young children. In my opinion (and I can only base this on my feeling and experience), the physical picture book works better with young children. I’m not saying they wont like an E-reader or that it’s not good for them (remember E-Ink technology removes the eye development damage a screen can have on a young child), all I’m saying is that it’s fun to turn pages in a physical book with children. I will talk about my favorite gadget for children in a post next week.

Here’s a site that might help you pick the E-reader best for you. http://www.switched.com/2010/08/30/the-best-e-readers-compared-kindle-kobo-nook-and-reader-throw/

So, why aren’t I afraid that E-books will replace physical books and that robots will take my job?

Here’s the thing. I’m an Information Professional.  You  might not be able to tell that because I spend most of my time reading stories, playing parachute, doing finger plays and making noise in the library. However, I really LOVE information and providing access to it.  Information comes in many forms, not just print. People need information. Librarians teach people how to get access to information and then how to use it properly. It’s my job to learn about the latest technology so I can teach you. You need me. You probably don’t have time to stay on top of all the latest stuff. Chances are you are always going to need me. You might need me in a different way now than in 10 years, but I’m adaptable, so I’m ready for that.

Technology is changing so fast and I get paid to figure it out, you probably don’t. So there. A library is about more than just books. For me, it’s about information, education and community. None of those things exist solely in printed materials. Libraries are changing with the times and if they aren’t, well I feel bad for them because they might become obsolete. New technology enhances what we do, it changes what we do, but it doesn’t eliminate what we do.

I’m not a believer in technology for the sake of technology, but a lot of technology and gadgets increase access to information, make our lives easier, and more fun.  Librarians can teach you what to do with this new technology and how to use it safely. We can teach your children how to use Facebook and twitter and their smartphones in ways that will enhance their professional reputations in the future, not hurt them. We can help people understand the repercussions of instant access society and how to use technology to make us better and smarter people. A lot of people think all this technology is sending us to hell in handbasket, or whatever people say. They say we don’t need it. Maybe we don’t need it, but it’s here. Your children are going to be exposed to it whether you like it or not. So why not get on board and teach them (or let me!) how to use it for good.

Also, I’m much cuter than most robots.

 

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This entry was published on January 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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