Friday, September 11, 2015

Tech To-Go

For the last couple of months, I have been hard at work on a program to offer our students something completely new to our library - a host of technology for them to take home and play with.

Now, being and institute of technology, one would think that we would have already had this sort of thing available, but not so much. Up until now, it's been somewhat out of reach. But we recently increased student fees to allow for us to provide better services to our students. This is one of those cases that we're really delivering what we promised.

In May, we discussed the idea of having a technology lending program. And in June, we were ordering everything we needed to get it started. The next few weeks felt like Christmas, with box after box of really cool equipment arriving.

 So, by July, this is what my bottom file drawer looked like:

I liked to joke with my husband that I had $15k of equipment just hanging out at my desk. (Not really quite that much, but it was definitely a lot of money.)

I spent the next couple of months going through every item. On the tablets, I uploaded apps I thought would be useful, put together folders, figured out the tips and tricks. It was a long process of basically playing with all kinds of technology. I wore the watches around for a day (both a Samsung Gear and the Apple Watch), so I could talk about each. I worked with our IT services on some items that needed their touch (specifically the Apple products and Dell products), and others I was on my own to get up and running. 

The whole process was very clunky, I'll tell you. I was flying on my own a lot of the time. We had a few documents from a sister campus that I used to frame some of my own final documents, but generally, I spent a lot of time doing trial and error on different aspects of the program. I'd think through it like a student, then like a faculty member. I tried to anticipate questions and problems, and then tweak and adjust until I felt like I had something right. 

Once I thought I had everything figured out, I created a libguide (which you can view here), so that the students wouldn't have to go through the same growing pains I did with each item. They would have tips, tricks, full instructions and item limitations right at their fingertips. 

The program went live on September 1, the first day of our semester. It was a rocky first few days, but soon, everything was ironed out, and things started flying off the shelves.

Posting silly photos of myself to social media is my main approach to advertising.

My director has encouraged me to submit a proposal to discuss how we set up the program for the Oklahoma Library Association, so sometime soon I'm going to sit down and write it all out, and figure out every hurdle I had to jump over in the process. If it gets accepted, I suppose I'll have to tell a whole group of people how many times I screwed up along the way. 

Still, the program is in place, and so far, I think it's been a success. Whew. Way to NOT waste the students' library fees!