My sister-in-law works at a library in Northern Alberta and while she was visiting recently, we were talking about our libraries and how things are done in both places. One common issue we noticed is that while technology at the library is a great step forward…..there has to be a learning curve as well as expectations from the public. Not only is staff expected to know everything about new technologies that are being used withing the library (such as eBooks, audiobooks and Ancestry.ca), but many patrons also seem to expect us to be able to teach them as well, and it isn’t always possible.
When we started with audiobooks and eBooks here at our library, we all received a small virtual training session. Yes, virtual….meaning we participated in a webinar online. No hands on training, no devices to try. We were given the basics and had to go from there. Now, we were lucky enough that some of us had iPods and eBook readers so we could experiment at home. But not everyone has one, so while the staff was trained, a few have never used these devices before. You can see how tricky this might be. It would be like someone learning how to drive by watching a video and then being expected to teach others in an actual car. (Okay, maybe not as lethal, but you get the picture.) So you can see how tricky this is for us.
Secondly, we’re finding that many people who want to download eBooks and Audiobooks are not well versed on their computers and certainly have no experience using these devices, which makes the experience frustrating for all of us. While we can hopefully help someone figure out how to eventually get the books onto their systems (everyone has different settings and devices), we can’t always spend as much time as they need and we can’t do it repeatedly. That means a little experimentation at home is required. Go to our help pages on this blog when first setting up. Visit the help pages on the OverDrive website to see if you can solve the problem that way. Or ask someone (grab just about any young person you know…they’ll probably do it in three seconds!) to help you in your own environment. And write it down. I can’t stress that enough….if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing…..write it down, step by step, when someone shows you. That’ll make a big difference.
As for Ancestry.ca, not all of us know every in and out of the site (not everyone has done genealogy research). While most of us can help you figure out how to print off that great photo or census, the site is limited by what it can do. We might be able to make the photo larger, but not necessarily clearer, and while you’d love to have all the data from the link included, sometimes it will just print the photo and that’s all. It’s not our fault if they change the website on occasion. We didn’t do anything to make them change things, so getting frustrated with the staff won’t help. Again, take your time, learn how to work the computer and write things down so that you can do it again next time. We don’t always have the time to spend with someone if we’re really busy.
We want this to be a fun and useful for all involved because eBooks and Audiobooks and Ancestry are a wonderful addition to the library. But keep in mind that some of the work has to be done on your end, too. Know a much as you can about your computer and your device before bringing it in (taking it out of the box at the library isn’t going to help either of us). Prepare to get frustrated, but trust us that it gets easier. And while we encourage you to come in with questions, give it a try before you walk in with all your equipment. And please don’t get upset with us if we can’t figure it out in three seconds. Remember….this is new to us, too.