Not often do “magical and amazing” new products enter the marketplace, so it was a necessity that our library purchase an iPad (or two) and see how they compare to the Kindles we are beta testing in a class this spring. This Saturday I went to our local Apple Store and purchased two 16gb iPads, two iPad cases from Apple, and two iPad to VGA connectors. Here are my initial thoughts after testing it this weekend and getting feedback from others:
- The screen clarity and quality are amazing. Text and images are crystal clear. Animations, screen switching, and application launches are very smooth.
- Almost everyone who has tried them have mentioned they seem heavy. They weigh just over one pound and have a very solid feel.
- Safari on the iPad is just as fast as Safari on my Macbook Pro, or it at least felt that way.
- The iPad App Store offers coverflow, which is a nice touch.
- The on-screen keyboard is ample and is very easy to use. I’ve been using both hands to type in landscape view.
- The iBooks app will download after you register the device and launch the App Store for the first time. It comes with “Winnie the Pooh” complete with original art from E. H. Shepard. The page turn animations work seamlessly and they turn as fast or as slow as you want. You can even see “through” a page while it’s turning and see the text and illustrations in reverse. All of the Project Gutenburg texts are available from the iBook Store and each title downloads in under 10 seconds.
- The Kindle app is now available. I’ve successfully added our library’s account and downloaded a few titles from our archive. The Kindle app on the iPad makes the Kindle look like it’s from 1982 and the text looks just as good as iBook downloads minus the page turn animations, sorry Amazon. (But we already know it’s their secret goal to focus on software…)
- A few of the apps I’ve tested include NPR, Netflix, USA Today, The New York Times Editor’s Choice, Tweetdeck, Labyrinth Lite, Marvel Comics, and Evernote (all freebies, Netflix requires a subscription). The USA Today interface seems to be a combination of newspaper and blog, which works well for quickly scanning headlines. The New York Times Editor’s Choice app has the same feel, but a little more polish to the overall look.
- Both the Mail and Calendar apps work flawlessly with our campus Exchange server. I really like the message list on the left, with message content on the right. The larger display for Calendar (compared to the iPhone) is very nice and lets you quickly flip through weeks or months.
- Finger smudges! Be ready with your wipes to keep your screen free of thousands of finger smudges. However, is this a sign of success?
I’ve been listening to predictions to what the iPad would be and do for quite a while now via the TWiT network of podcasts. As they predicted, the iPad is truly an appliance computer. You almost don’t have to even think about it. It just works, which is what Apple wants. Is it locked down? Yes. Do you have to worry about it getting infected with malware? No (at the moment). There are already reports of first-time computer users feeling very comfortable with the iPad’s touch interface. It’s certainly the pinnacle of perfection as Apple marketing would have us believe, but I believe its going to be a huge success and usher in a new era of human-computer interaction.
I’ve become a big fan of infographics as a method for presenting data in a more informative and entertaining fashion than just dumping the content into a table. Libraries are notorious for presenting data to the public in ways that are neither informative nor entertaining, so recently I set out to create an infographic for our library that contains our annual statistics for the past few years. Initially we’ve decided to inform our users about:
- the number of items that circulate each year
- each interlibrary loan item we borrow and lend
- the number of times a group study room key is checked out
- how many laptops are borrowed
- our most used databases and the corresponding number of searches
My tools for this project included Photoshop and images available from Smashing Magazine and Open Clip Art, all of which are free to use and modify. Total time spent on the project was around 8 hours which included finding the right images and resizing and modifying, typing text, aligning layers, etc. This has resulted in a final product that I find more visually appealing and one that I hope will better communicate the levels of service we provide to our community. If there are other libraries doing this, I’d really like to compare notes! You can also see the final product below or from our assessment page.
We licensed LibGuides from Springshare this past summer as part of a complete redesign of our library’s site. It has been a great addition and gives our subject liaisons complete control over the content they want/need to share with the students and faculty in their subject areas. One question that quickly arose was the possibility of using book cover images from Syndetics, versus the default images available from Amazon in the “Books From The Catalog” box. Staff members in our library systems dept. came up with an initial solution which I was able to further customize. Below is the result of that process.
- Add the “Books from the Catalog” box to your guide
- After adding the box, click “Add a New Book”
- Complete all of the relevant boxes for your title
- The key is using the “Covert Art (Optional)” box. Instead of clicking the Amazon button, you’ll need to get the URL from Syndetics:
- Open a new tab or browser window and go to the catalog
- Search for the book in the catalog and go into the item record
- Click “Reviews and More” under the small Syndetics cover image
- Click the “Cover image” link. This will take you to the large image you’ll use for your image in LibGuides
- Right click on the cover image and select “Properties”
- Highlight or double click to select all of the text in the “Location” field and and copy the link by pressing ctrl-c or right-click and “copy”
- You’re now ready to go back to LibGuides in your other tab or browser window
- Back in the “Add a New Book” box, paste the link you copied in the “location” field from the Syndetics cover image
- Hit the return key, click on a different field, or just click the Add Book button if you’re finished and ready to close the box
Bonus feature – by copying and pasting the link from the catalog to the item record in the “URL (Optional)” field it will make book title and cover image link back to the catalog item record!
Since writing the above post, Springshare has added built-in functionality to use images from Syndetics. You still have to have a subscription to their service however.