When this month’s theme was announced I got to thinking of some of the innovations that have entered into my world since I was a child. I should state here that I am defining innovation according to its “invention” and “evolution” roots. I wanted to think about what new systems/ideas/products have been brought into librarianship that have made me wonder how we could have ever done without.
Like poor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, what have I grown accustomed to? So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and here are a few of my favorite innovations without which I am sure my job and my life would be far more challenging and far less enjoyable.
(Mind you, this is in no particular order.)
1. Wireless printing: I am writing this post from the comfort of my living room sofa. If I want to proofread a hard copy of this, I am able to tell my computer to print and the document will print out in my office. Even better, my printer can be anywhere in my office and is not tethered to wires around my computer. It’s rather freeing really. Somehow the whole concept of this wireless freedom, which has shown itself in many office environs thanks to networking, did not become fully real to me until I was untethered both at work and home.
2. Online card catalogs: Sometimes I think I am a closet catalouger. I can often get sidetracked by a small catalouging project by the discovery that certain subject headings are inconsistent. At a time when many of us are shifting the way we view our shelving, we have to give some credit to the flexibility online cataloguing provides. It is now VERY easy to make global systematic changes to records. Granted, I’ve rarely found a catalog that was really end-user friendly (and some are disastrous on several fronts), so there’s still much innovating to be done in this arena, we cannot take for granted the benefit these systems have given us, especially in terms of personalizing our library collections.
3. Stylus pens: Yes, I know to grow accustomed to the stylus, I must also grow used to the device, but for me, the iPad tripled in usability once I could use my own handwriting and hand-drawing on the device. The stylus allowed me to do just that, and also gave my forefinger a much wanted break. I have a favorite stylus, but will take other stand bys in a pinch. With the stylus, I am now able to take notes on a favorite note-taking app during a meeting and then send these notes back to myself (and others) via email, Evernote, iCloud or what have you.
4. Google docs: Since my graduate school days, I’ve been using Google docs, but it wasn’t until this year that I learned to love it. When collaborating with others who are not in the same place as you, Google docs can really save the day. And save time. And save us all from confusing moments of misinformation. Perhaps I give Google docs too much credit, but any tool that allows users to contribute in real time and maintains records of changes…that seems like a good thing. I imagine other programs have similar sharing capabilities, but currently Google docs is the one for me.
5. Noodletools: This is the program I wish existed when I was in high school. When I was in college even. I was only lucky enough at the end of my grad school days to benefit from it. I can’t live without it now that I know it exists. As a citation creator and note-taking program, it takes the cake. Now, I don’t have to stay current on changes to MLA or APA formatting. I just have to help my teens know how to find the author, editor, publisher, etc. of a material. It’s my go-to gadget and I’m eagerly awaiting the summer updates that are planned to include iPad compatibility.
So here are five innovations I’ve learned to love. What innovations can you not live without and what others (like the amazing OPAC) are you still hoping for? Let us know!