Helene Blowers and Meredith Farkas talked about the concept of “playing” with technology – as ways to learning more about how to use technology, online social networking tools and other online applications in our libraries as well as ways to train others to use them. Helene specifically told us to carve out time during our day to allow ourselves to play with different tools.
I had been thinking about this concept a lot lately, as sometimes I wonder if people look at the work I’m doing with blogs, wikis, IM, RSS, web pages, etc. as “not real library work.” I think it’s imperative that as librarians we experiment with different tools, resources and technologies. The use of one particular tool may not be immediately apparent, but you never know when some situation or problem might arise and that tool could be the perfect application to address that issue.
This point was driven home for me when last week I heard a report on NPR about the local NPR affiliate station in San Diego, and how they had used web-tools to get information out about the fires. The web-developers at the station created a public Google Map and a Twitter feed with information about the fires, evacuation areas, shelters and other pertinent public information. The key quote from the report for me was this one:
Online Managing Editor Leng Caloh relied on My Map, a fairly new application from Internet search engine Google. People usually use My Map to pinpoint things like the best places to play golf or get a drink.
“The playing that a lot of us on the team do in our free time has been the key to our success,” Caloh said.
You never know what kinds of applications you could use these new tools for, until it becomes very apparent. So play around with them.