My Library Tech Favorites for 2021
Library Tech. A necessity for today's Library. This may also be an ever-so-slightly controversial topic as the discussions of whether or not Libraries are still relevant loom overhead like clouds casting shadows sporadically on an open road. But it seems that argument is really based on whether or not Libraries should maintain their traditional all-books-all-business status or if they should primarily become a place of technological advances. And naturally, the answer is a profound YES! To both! You will never convince me that physical books are a thing of the past. And for the record, as an obsessive book lover, I actually enjoy them in several formats; print, e-book and audio. It just depends on where I'm at and what I'm reading. However nothing will EVER replace the feel of a good book with a sturdy cover and rustling pages in my hands. But why can't we have both? We should have both! But no doubt, technology is forever trending up and in order for a Library to remain the place of community, information access and growth that it should be, technology must be embraced.
Now, I must insert my disclaimer here that while I am current on basic technology and love to play with all of today's newest gadgets, I am not and repeat am NOT a tech connoisseur that spends countless hours on my phone reading all the latest tech blogs out there. So this post is not about the best of the best or even the number one of the hottest tech lists out there. It's pretty safe to say that if you do your own research on this topic, you're going to find a plethora of brilliance that far exceeds my own on this particular topic. So, that having been said, in the following paragraphs, you will find the insights from a fellow book lover, Library designer and patron who has researched some pretty cool Library tech items that I find interesting. So read it! And by all means, let me know what YOUR favorites are in your OWN Library! I really want to know! I have a feeling these only capture the very tip of the iceberg.
EXTENDED REALITY - WHO DOESN'T LOVE THAT PHRASE?!
Oh the things I could say about a phrase like "Extended Reality"; especially in today's current cultural climate. But as it turns out, it's just a collective term that sums up things like "Virtual Reality", "Augmented Reality" and "Mixed Reality". This is probably my favorite that I've discovered so far. I've added a few links so you can explore these further if you aren't already well-versed in them. But as a whole these kinds of apps and devices give people the ability to visit other places and do things that they may never get to do this side of reality. And imagine what kids can do with them! I love that they can explore and maximize the use of their already brilliantly enormous imaginations to access worlds and tasks that may shape who they become in the future. I personally have two children. And my oldest has an imagination that transcends anything I've ever witnessed. Products like these make me think of what amazing things he could create using Extended Reality devices.
A quote I found from the Simplilearn website in an article called Top 9 New Technology Trends for 2021 by Nikita Duggal reads, "14 million AR and VR devices were sold in 2019. The global AR and VR market is expected to grow to $209.2 billion by 2022, only creating more opportunities in the trending technology, and welcoming more professionals ready for this game-changing field." If that's the case, I imagine it won't be long before Libraries find a reason to fit them into their materials budget in the very near future, if they haven't already done so. Here is a small list of some that I've found in my research. What are some of your favorites and would you use them?
Kid's are gaming. For that matter, Adults are gaming! That's just not news to anyone and I realize this. But the gaming capabilities and technology involved never cease to amaze me. Now I must apologize to those who are self-professed gamers, but I'm just not. I do however live with two of them. Only one of which is a child. And the tech that comes across their screens is mind-boggling to me at times. With the release of Apple Arcade and Google Stadia, they can play and play and play . . . And according to Telenor.com tech trends 2020, these gaming outlets will create tough competition for gaming systems like X-Box and Sony Playstation. But nonetheless, die hard fans are probably not likely to part with their system of choice any time soon. I for one will stick to my Solitaire, Candy Crush and Scrabble Go apps. Try not to judge too harshly.
TRANSLATION APPS - COMMENT DITES-VOUS
Communication is one of our greatest barriers. And while we continue to struggle with that universally, the one area in which we need not struggle any longer is in the area of spoken language. Thanks to well-designed translator apps, we have no more excuses. These apps are so much better than they were a decade ago. You can have an entire conversation with someone and learn all about them without the frustrating divide of language barriers. Now naturally, learning the languages themselves is the preferred way to go, but if you're visiting a foreign country for the first time or just happen to meet someone visiting yours, this is a quick and easy way to strike up a conversation and make the person you're speaking with feel at ease immediately. A couple of really fun apps are:
APP CREATORS AND OTHER PROTOTYPE CREATION TOOLS
It looks like the tech minds are coming up with some really interesting ways for people (again something like this for kids could be life-changing) to create their own apps and prototypes. While this has been on the scene for some time, I think the key to these new creations is that they are supposed to be very user friendly. This would give the creative mind much easier access to coming up with a new product they've had brewing around in their head. They can finally use these new tools to maximize their design without the obstacles of hard-to-use software. I love that this is even an option now. Inventors will be coming out in droves at the youngest of ages now! Check out www.marvelapp.com to learn more.
MEMORY LAB - WHAT?! WHERE WAS THIS BACK IN '03?
Once upon a time in order to convert VHS or any other dated device into a more current format, one had to pay a large amount of money and wait for a large amount of time to produce that desired result. But now you can visit your favorite local Library and do it there. I'm sure you have to purchase materials, but I think in most places the equipment usage is free. I think. Anyone who works with this system personally may of course feel free to correct me or tell me how your Library handles this. I would actually love to know more. But for now, the concept is brilliant to me and my wedding and reception videos are well on their way to becoming safely preserved memories for what will hopefully be a lifetime of viewing pleasure.
I love the direction our Library technology is headed in. There are so many accessible options at our fingertips and our visions of creativity can be carried out as far as we are willing to take them. Things we could not achieve before or at the very least was not something every person had access to due to cost or accessibility is now something we can all take part in thanks to our local Libraries. I, myself am grateful for the access you provide. So tech on Library readers! And have a great week!