Firstly, I hope those who celebrate had an enjoyable Christmas. 🙂

I’ve always been a bit of a gadget freak so I particularly enjoyed playing with a new toy at my boyfriend’s parents – the iPod Touch. I’ve had a play with the iPhone in O2 shops and although I think it is great, I really don’t think it justifies such a hefty upfront cost on top of an expensive contract so once I found out the cost it was never really an option for me. I do love some of the new features though and it really is intuitive. I hadn’t really realised just how similar to the iPhone the latest iPod was. OK, so it doesn’t have the ability to phone or text but my regular phone which I’ve had for 2 and a half years does all that sort of stuff fine. What it does have however is the same web browser capability as the iPhone.

I had a quick play on it last night and I’ve fallen in love – I know it sounds dramatic but it was brilliant. I checked my blog on there which worked fine in both portrait and landscape (good little test in case anyone ever views this on an iPhone!), then decided to check Facebook. It automatically detected I was using an iPod and took me directly to the iPhone friendly Facebook page, very neat. Many Web 2.0 type sites have developed (or are in the process of doing so) iPhone friendly sites so I imagine this will become more popular as long as iPhones stay at the forefront. The ease of use was incredible, at first I found it a little confusing but within just a few minutes I was automatically turning it for best view and zooming in using my fingers to read smaller print. You can also open multiple windows which I didn’t realise beforehand, another great feature.

I’m now in turmoil as I really want one but don’t know if I can justify the cost (especially with me having to fork out more for my University fees this year). I’ll have to see if I can find a good deal. The only slight drawback for me is that obviously you need to gain access to wifi – this is no problem at home but for example, I wouldn’t be able to browse the internet on the bus on the way home whereas with the iPhone I could. I just hope we see more free wifi hotspots and wifi on public transport becoming the norm!

Now that I’ve experienced it myself I can really see why Apple are doing so well in this market and I can really see this sort of thing becoming the future for browsing the net wherever people are. Who knows, maybe we’ll see developments for iPhone friendly library OPACs and online databases soon!

One of my Christmas gifts is a gadget too – a 4 GB USB drive with U3 capability. I’m currently using Firefox from the USB and it seems to work well, I did have problems when using it on another PC though, hopefully it’s just teething problems. It also has the ability to automatically synchronise files and password protect them too, although I’m still learning how to do that!

Other Christmas gadgets I was impressed by included my sister’s new Kodak EasyShare camera with printer which meant I walked away with copies of instant photos from the day. OK so Polaroid has been doing this for years but the advantage of being able to see the pictures on the camera beforehand and print full sized photos so quickly without a PC is really great.

Did anyone else get any cool gadgets?

EDIT: I couldn’t resist any longer, I am now the proud owner of a 16GB iPod Touch.

It’s always come as a surprise to me just how much we (as librarians) rely on the OPAC. It may be different at other establishments but I know here we use it for many of our enquiries (if you ignore the silly number of enquiries we get about room bookings!) and also for staff tasks such as checking reading lists, checking stock levels before weeding, etc etc.

You’d think with so much of our work relying on the tool, that tool must be amazing. Sadly not. To coin a phrase used by Davey P at Huddersfield University, our OPAC sucks and his survey results show we’re definitely not alone.

Fortunately things are looking up here. We are currently in the massively time consuming process of looking for another library management system. One of the stages is to examine what us, and more importantly our users need from an OPAC. I’m going to be involved in the OPAC project and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hopeful we can gain feedback from users and potentially integrate features like book covers, ratings, similar item suggestions, and spelling suggestions (boo.

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Firstly, a brief apology for the extended time period since the last post, I’ve been mega busy with work, study and preparing for Christmas (as well as spending a week in Scotland which was more of the relaxing than busy variety!). If you’re interested, I’ll be adding photos of our Scotland visit and a trip to London yesterday to my Flickr and Facebook accounts shortly.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. Since I first started investigating how we could utilise Facebook for our library users it’s had it’s fair share of issues and hoops to jump through, but it looks likely that we’ll be able to start using it soon. Our University Marketing department now have a corporate account on Facebook and they’ll hopefully be able to set a page up for our department to use as part of their account.

I’ve also been trying to establish exactly what we should use it for. My view is that it should be used as a marketing tool. I know that many of our students use Facebook on a regular basis, and I’m hoping we can promote our Facebook page to them so that they will join as fans. This way we can send them news updates (e.g. Christmas opening hours) and notify them of any events they may be interested in (e.g. our information skills workshops). I hope we can add links to useful sections of the library web pages which we all know are not used effectively at the moment by students (usually because they’re not aware of the material on there), and maybe even add a catalogue search box integrated in Facebook.

There are a few UK academic libraries appearing on Facebook Pages so I’m hoping we’ll be able to share advice and experiences, there is a group within Facebook called Libraries using Facebook Pages which I’ve found very useful to see what others are up to.

Is anyone else out there using Facebook Pages (for libraries or other organisations)?