Throughout the month of February, YALSA will be posting each day on themes relating to teens and technology in (or outside) libraries. From mobile apps to tablets, technology and its applications are now an inextricable part of young adults’ daily lives. How do libraries and librarians support teen technology use? What do traditional literacy skills look like in the information age? Will we lead the charge, or struggle to keep up?
Lately I’ve been thinking about the disconnect between my personal infrastructure and the one I enjoy (or bemoan) at work. What if my tech habits at home could carry over to work?
At home, I have a secure wireless network that seamlessly communicates with my laptop, printer, cable, PS3, and iPod Touch. When I have guests, I can easily give them access to the wireless. The signal strength doesn’t reach far outside my apartment, but I can easily access it in any room–including my back porch or front stoop.
At work, on the other hand, most computers are still wired. We’re in the process of unrolling wireless throughout the building, but currently the signal is inconsistent, and it doesn’t reach all wings. Administrators sometimes come to the library to access their wireless devices, as the front office isn’t yet wireless. Students can access the public network when they’re in areas like the library, but the secure network isn’t accessible to them–or even to us, as faculty have to have devices configured by our network administrator.
When I’m at home, I have access to a decent array of cable channels, but I also have access to thousands more shows and movies thanks to Netflix streaming, now available through a simple app on my PS3. Netflix even streams in high definition now that I have an HD-ready device. I could also watch Bluetooth movies using the PS3.
My home devices are a mix of old and new. I haven’t yet upgraded my almost five-year-old Dell laptop and I’m hanging on to my original NES and PS2, but I have a brand new printer, TV and PS3–and when Apple rolled out the new iPod Touch with video, I replaced my barely three-month-old Touch for a new one.
In the library at work, I have to work with over 50 computers that are more than a decade old. We’re constantly swapping out keyboards and mice, incapacitated either through abuse or old age, and I’ve called in for copy repair three times this school year to attend to the world’s fussiest photocopier. None of the student computers in my labs can play DVDs or burn discs. The USB ports are located in the back of the CPU, which means jockeying for space in cramped quarters.
My enthusiasm for web 2.0 tools, my passion for gadgets and games, my appreciation for impressive displays and cool features–none of this means anything if I’m working with computers that can’t even reasonably support PhotoShop. More and more we see students flailing as they try to access documents saved in current versions of Word or sent to themselves via Facebook messages.
What’s the state of your tech? Are you leading a dual life?