Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week 12 - AT Module 3

Software is something I've not really thought much about until recently. As Jurkowski notes in the text, "The assumption is that any new computer will come with Microsoft Windows" (p. 19). Having this presumption myself, I don't really think about what will be in front of me when I sit down at a computer, and since most operating systems and basic productivity software comes fairly standard with a computer purchase, I haven't given much thought to what else is available.

I did have to recently give thought to some children's gaming software for the library where I work. An issue with the inability to monitor one computer's usage due to its location has led to the board's decision to have internet access removed, thus the need for some entertaining gaming sources aside from the net. I found myself relying heavily on reviews, both professional as well as user-generated. The two biggest considerations I dealt with were system requirements and entertainment value - not extremely technical, but necessary to give thought to. Thankfully the system requirements were fairly easy to figure out and match with what we have here at the library and from there it was a matter of "collection development" mentality to be sure to select software of interest and use to the kids. That's the extent of my personal experience thus far.

I found it very helpful to consider rubrics/comparison charts. I guess I had a mental one, but to actually physically create one is of greater assistance. It allows you to consistently compare the software so you don't miss looking at certain criteria for one and not another. It also aids the justification process!

I enjoyed reading Chapter 9 in Jurkowski, mostly because it's highly relevant to my work situation right now. There isn't much discussed in regard to AT, but the consideration of evaluating software, especially library automation software, is something that will be of great import in the near future. I think I'd mentioned at some point during a post for our cataloging class that Pennsylvania's subsidized ASP/ILS (Millennium) will no longer be subsidized or supported by mid-2010. That leaves those libraries - including mine - that have used Millennium for the last several years scrambling for new options. Our hope is that the state will present us with another system which they will be willing to subsidize, likely an Open Source system. Otherwise, many libraries will be sorely struggling with decisions that don't leave too many feasible options. Regardless, in the near future we will likely be dealing with everything a transition and conversion entails. If anyone has any info, comments, etc. regarding Open Source automation systems, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

AT- Module 2

As others have mentioned in their blogs, I nearly forgot to do this post! I had checked out the links and videos as a precursor to the hardware assignment, then forgot I needed to come back and comment on them! There is a lot going on out there for assistive tech, and it's really great to see what can be done to make lives easier and more productive for people with all sorts of disabilities. I was so awed by the videos of what people are able to do and overcome with AT - going to college and owning and maintaining a business are so much more in the reach of those with disabilities. I think of my own frustrations, issues, and problems trying to accomplish everything in my daily life at work, home and distance ed., and I have no disabilities!

Not having much experience with various disabilities, I have really enjoyed learning about them and what is available to assist each issue. Some AT is quite simple, i.e. a head stylus, but its effects are very dramatic in how they help a person function. It was really touching to see how the computer generated voice capability helped give a person and those around them such a broader ability to communicate and emote. That type of assistance would open up a world of possibilities in teacher-student relationships and abilities!

EnableMart is a great site for seeing all the availability of AT and even assessing what would be helpful to those with disabilities. It seems to me that the hardest area to serve with technology
is hearing impairment. I likely made things difficult for myself when I chose that topic to address in the tech plan, but I found it interesting to scour the websites for what is available. Most of the AT addresses amplification and/or clarity of sound or voice and TTY and home assistance for phones, etc., but I looked for what would be helpful in the classroom setting. This proved to be a difficult task, especially for a severely hearing impaired or completely deaf student. The tablet pc that offers voice to text options for note taking seem to be the best option. The student can observe (sight being the sense a hearing impaired person relies upon the most) everything during class, then have the notes to review and refer to later.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Week 10, cont'd. - Intro and Module 1

In the intro for the Discovering AT blog, it reviews the lifelong learning habits and under exercise #3 it asks what we hope to learn from this tutorial. I have to say I'm hoping to become more aware and rounded in my knowledge of disabilities and how they affect the information seeking process. I'd also like to learn more about assistive technology options to help overcome disabilities and also to have personal knowledge of how to use and apply assistive tech.

I wonder if anyone else looked at the "scorecard" for their state on the site? I really hate to think how deficient so many states are when it comes to providing for the learning disabled. My state of Pennsylvania is deemed "needs assistance" and the money that comes from the federal government as opposed to what is actually allocated is shameful! This which comes from supposed government regulated standards lacks so much implementation! (Looks like those assistive technology tech plans need to be evaluated and properly applied! :-])

JAN, the Job Accommodation Network has a lot of information for employers, employees and others interested in all kinds of disabilities. I was impressed by the wealth of information on it and SOAR, the Searchable Online Accommodation Resource. It not only provides tons of information about disabilities, it helps assess how much assistance a person might need and what to do to accommodate him. For further assistance, it even links to sources to research and/or purchase the needed equipment.

Now, if I can just put all this together to generate a tech plan suitable for doing what Jurkowski quotes (from Information Power) on page 167 of the text, I'll be doing great! It states, "Acting as a technologist (rather than a technician) and a collaborator with teachers, the library media specialist lays a critical role in designing student experiences that focus on authentic learning, in formation literacy and the curricular mastery - not simply on manipulating machinery."

Jurkowski, O. L. (2006). Technology and the school library: A comprehensive guide for media specialists and other educators. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 10 - AT

I have to say I was blown away by the information on Microsoft's assistive tech website. Of course the information is geared toward Microsoft products, but there is so much more information on just making the reader aware of what is available to assist people with difficulties and disabilities. I really liked the "Guides by Impairment" section which targets each area of disability and gives the tools available to assist anyone with these issues. The direct link to the web page is:

I also really enjoyed the Universal Design site. I am amazed at what people can think of to overcome impairments and disabilities!
As I began reading over the various sites and information on assistive technology and universal design, I started thinking of examples of where I've seen people using AT. I have a brother-in-law who is severely sight impaired. He is able use the computer daily to do lots of things, leisure to business. He uses screen enlargers and screen readers (I didn't know the correct terms for them until today!)
There is a man at our local DMV who takes photos for drivers licenses who is also severely sight impaired. He uses a very advanced type of desktop video magnifier (much like the one pictured above) which enlarges anything he puts under it and displays it on a screen so he can read it. Anything a person gives to him that he has to see he puts under this magnifier. It's really awesome what he is able to accomplish with it that he would not be able to do otherwise!
This may not be assistive "technology" per se, but I've been made more aware of meeting the needs of those with disabilities of all types at the library. It was made very clear to me of the need to be sure that any videos I order for the library be subtitled/captioned for the hearing impaired. One of my hearing impaired patrons borrowed a video (happened to be "The Color of Magic") and when he returned it, he said he wasn't able to watch it because it wasn't subtitled. I hadn't thought about making sure videos had this capability before I ordered I do! Just some food for thought...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Week 9 - Thing 22 - e/audio books

I have very little experience with eBooks of any sort. I have used audiobooks, and have relatives who use them extensively when they are in the car or doing chores at home. Personally, I prefer the print-to-eye interaction I guess, so I don't often listen to them. The library where I work has a leasing subscription to Landmark Audio Books. It is a nice service that allows for variety with having to purchase audio books that might not circulate well. I have recently suggested our audio book collection to several of our sight-impaired patrons, which is well-received unless they also have difficulty hearing, which is sometimes the case with the older ones! The local school district's libraries have a decent selection of audiobooks which seem to go over well with the students.

Dr. Farmer brings up some good points to ponder in Week 9 assignment overview. Are eBooks/Google good solutions for limited-resource libraries? I think Google Books and the open source/creative commons type of materials are and could be advantageous. At this point, I don't know if eBooks would be as easily incorporated into poorly funded, poorly resourced library. The overview by University of Rochester's website points out that at this time " tight encryption between the content and the device" don't make for easy library to patron access. I had a patron come in a couple weeks ago rather agitated because she had taken part in a phone survey regarding eBooks and all sorts of electronic media vs print sources. She said one question asked if she would ever consider using eBooks exclusively, to which she responded, "Never!" She expressed her concern that the survey pointed toward libraries becoming obsolete - I assured her we have many more services to offer besides simply lending books. :-)

I browsed Questia a bit. eLibraries that offer eBook services seem more feasible - as opposed to the physical libraries - but I know there are libraries beginning to offer these services. The subscription rate is paid directly and the "patron" manages his own account, alleviating the issues of downloading and circulation. I liked the little chart that Questia offers to promote its use. Some are very sensible, such as the fact that the books are never due back and some are a bit comical such as clothing being optional...I guess it gets the point across!!

One other little book service I found interesting was the Book Crossing site. I didn't actually sign up, but was tempted...maybe in the future when I have a bit more time. If some didn't run across it in the Free Book list, it's a site that allows people to freely share books and track where they circulate - pretty cool.

Week 9 - Thing 21 - Podcasts

I've learned quite a bit about podcasts this week. One thing I found out is that podcasting does not require an iPod! I know, it should have been an obvious thing, but never really having dealt with podcasts personally, I just assumed... (we know what that means! :-]) I guess one of the reasons I hadn't explored them is that assumption - no iPod, no 'cast! When I saw the distinction noted on page 36 of the Courtney text I didn't feel quite so ignorant since the author found it important enough to mention, meaning I'm likely not the only one to miss this concept!

One of my favorite tools to promote books is the booktalk. When I ran across the "BookTalks Quick and Simple" listed in the Courtney text on page 37, I had to take a few minutes to check it out. Nancy Kean, the librarian and 'caster, does a really nice job of promoting books for all ages. All the ones I listened to were nicely done with storyteller-like expression, and some including music to enhance the interest. Her web page is simple, but very effective and user-friendly:

Her podcast subscription link is:

I think the text has done a great job of explaining the purposes and possible uses of podcasts in the library setting. The possibilities are only stifled by a lack of imagination and as the text points out, they go way beyond booktalks, library education, news, and local history... I'm thinking podcasts, libraries and teens would be a great mix!

To the right, I've added a link to a library podcast that I found interesting. I have a feeling someday I may end up at a military/government library or a library on a military post, hence the military theme to the 'cast.

Courtney, N., Ed.. (2007). Library 2.0 and beyond: Innovative technologies and tomorrow's user. Westport, CT, Libraries Unlimited.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 8, Thing 20 - youtube, etc.

I've tried several times to embed a video from YouTube, but it's not been successful, so I'll just post the link to it.

I watched quite a few library videos. Some were pranks, some were serious advertising info, and some were just a bit silly, like the Mr. Bean one trying to be quiet in the library (search Mr. Bean and library and it'll come up.) The video I chose is a quick one about the "super librarian" being the expert at information location among other things. I think YouTube - and other video sites - can be great assets to "advertising" what we do. In addition, there are some great applications to embedding video into library websites. A quick how-to video addressing locating materials, searching databases, or a video on library programs could all be interesting additions to a library's website. If a library could get public officials and/or local business personnel to do quick blurbs on what how they use the library, it would be great promotional material! (I liked Jack O'Connell Goes Back to School.) One of the other libraries in our county has just built a new library. One of the advertising/fundraising promotions they did was to have local business people on posters and in news ads holding their favorite book, i.e. the podiatrist had Dr. Seuss's "The Foot Book." It was a joint advertising effort for the library and the business. This same type of material could be done in videos for any library.

YouTube is a great site. I think most of us have probably taken some time perusing videos and getting a chuckle or two from them. (My daughter and I spent a ton of time one evening a few months ago watching baby videos, and laughing til our sides ached. There's a great laughing baby montage we especially enjoyed.)

I had enjoyed several of the videos listed on the Classroom Learning 2.0 - the March of the Librarians, Introducing the Book, etc. - before. During our Intro class, Dr. Tunon shared some of them with us.