I attended the fantastic ITIG DigiCamp Unconference yesterday at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.  It was centered around what libraries are doing with technology.  There were 12 main topics discussed, but I attended the three that were most relevant to my work as a Reference and Instruction Librarian.  The first topic I attended was “Mobile and Virtual Reference”.  I learned about Mosio’s Text a Librarian software which costs around $65 a month, and appears to be a great addition to any library.  The software does not require the librarian to answer questions from a cell phone.  The librarian responds directly from his computer–thank God because my fingers are too big for quick texting!  Google Voice is another (free) option to consider.  There is, however, a bit of a lag time with this service–but hey–it’s free!  Library H3lp is yet another texting service to check into that costs around $250 a year.  One Librarian who is using this service said her library averages about 100 texts a month on it.  “LibraryH3lp combines web-chat, IM (natively Jabber/XMPP, with gateways to other networks such as AIM, Yahoo!, and Google Talk), patron queuing, and message routing into an integrated help desk system.” 

The second topic that I attended was “Technology for Instruction”.  I learned about PollEverywhere, which is a free alternative to using clickers in the classroom.  The librarian displays his questions in multiple choice or open-ended format on the Web, and students respond to the questions via their cell phones.  This is a wonderful tool for interacting with students, and, unlike clickers, it won’t cost them anything–assuming they have a cell phone–and what student doesn’t these days?  I learned about Prezi and Empresser, great alternatives to PowerPoint.  Both are free and simple to use, and allow for much more dynamic presentations than PowerPoint slides.

The third and final topic that I attended was “Cool Web Tools”.  I had already experimented with XtraNormal, but was exposed to this neat and free Web tool in depth.  Their slogan is “If you can type, you can make movies.”  One Librarian showed a movie that he had made and embedded on his LibGuide page.  Now that’s a way to grab your students’ attention!  I lso learned about the libx toolbar which allows a library to set up Federated searching at no cost.  “LibX is a browser plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer that provides direct access to your library’s resources.”  Wow, now I need to play around with some of these wonderful tools!