Friday, March 24, 2006

cell phones in the library 1

There's this library with a NO cell phone policy. But it does allow laptops, Pocket PCs, etc.

Presumably patrons could skype on their laptops – would that count as phone use? And they can talk to each other, across the tables – so why not to other students in other rooms or in other cities?

Some librarians might say “but they’re not using their phones for academic purposes…” Well, how do you know that? You can’t police their conversations. It’s kinda like a student looking at a J.Crew catalog on library computers – is it academic use? Well, it is if they're looking at online pricing trends for a marketing class.

The point is that patrons ought to be relatively quiet in the library. If they can use a laptop or a cell phone quietly, then they ought to be able to use that technology because it can help them with research. Patrons: Cell phones on SILENT or at least on MEETING mode, please. Set it to VIBRATE, or get out of the library… And don’t shout your conversation in any medium.

Mobile phones aren’t going away. In fact, they’re becoming ever more prevalent and ever more useful. The line between ‘computers’ and ‘phones’ has long since been crossed. The line between tools like the Blackberry and the Pocket PC on one hand, and the ordinary cell phone on the other has way been crossed. Mobile phones now have web browser capabilities, file transfer ability, e-mail, simple word processors, cameras, and other applications. You might say that the cell phone is the poor man’s laptop computer.

I don’t think we should deny patrons their information tools, whether laptops or cell phones. Given, we don’t want cell phones constantly ringing. We also don’t want mp3s blasting out of a thinkpad. But we do want students to use the tools at hand to help them record and organize information, and to create quality content with whatever tools they have at hand. Let's not be so elitist as to allow a $2000 laptop and dissalow a cellphone when both are used for similar purposes and to the same ends, thanks.

Shush, you.

Hi. Since 1994 I've worked for public libraries, university libraries, and military libraries. I've seen librarians create all kinds of environments -- from progressive to mundane, principled to maleficient. I've seen libraries that don't work well, and those that rock hard. What I want is to find better ways to rock hard ways to rock harder, and find better ways to get the information to the people. That's what this blog is meant to be about.

This blog is a tool for me, kind of like a flash drive or Znail, something that's mobile and can remember. But different in the sense that here I have to put my links, notions, rants, and reminders together in a more coherent and logical format. It's also public, of course. Let's share some ideas.