I’ve been thinking today about what I wish I and my students could have access to in the library. Forget all the restrictions currently in place in the name of network security, student safety, legal protections and such—this is a list of favorite things I feel could enhance student learning if the school network and filter were to be unfettered.
[ ] Access to more browsers: I have come to detest Internet Explorer in the last 12 months. While I sometimes become frustrated by the slow load time and frequent updates of Firefox, their add-ons are unparalleled. I love how much more efficiently and effectively I can operate with the add-ons and Greasemonkey scripts I use to personalize and tweak my Firefox browser. In addition, some cool new tools I’m playing with this early autumn, like Zotero, need Firefox to breathe. In addition, I wish my students could have access to other browsers, like Google Chrome, to use when they are working with their Google apps—it’s really true that many of my Google apps fly in Chrome. I also find that the Safari browser is growing on me, too. I can only wonder if my students could be somewhat more productive if our district would allow the installation of alternate browsers and for students to customize their browsers with educational add-ons.
[ ] An Affordable SMS/Email Service That Will Work with My OPAC: so far, I am striking out on my search for a text messaging and email service that I can use to notify patrons of fines, holds, and general announcements. So far, Follett Destiny, our district OPAC, does not offer any of these options other than to email the teacher (which seems a bit useless to me, honestly)—I want to communicate with the patrons directly. Their cell phones are where they live—it makes sense that having the ability to text message patrons about their library accounts is the way to go, plus it would help us save paper while communicating more effectively with students.
[ ] The Ability for Students to View Embedded Videos: while my primary wish would be for students to have access to YouTube for research, I would happily settle for them to be able to see the embedded videos I incorporate into the research pathfinder. It is extremely frustrating to include these informative and helpful resources in the pathfinder but to have to tell kids, “Sorry—you’ll have to wait to you get home to view this.” In addition, the inability to provide YouTube content only diminishes my library’s relevance as a place to go for information—why should students have to wait until they get home (and not all even have a computer or Internet at home) to see rich content from the CDC or a Google tool tutorial? I know the content from Slide is viewable in embedded form even though the service/website itself is blocked, so I wonder why the same cannot done be done for YouTube. I will continue to ask in hopes this wish will come true.
[ ] Catalog/OPAC 2.0: I am normally a patient person, but I have very little left when it comes to this subject. While some efforts have been made by Follett to make Destiny a more Web 2.0 kind of OPAC, these changes are mainly limited to students having the ability to rate an items and a hipper interface; there is the “suggested title” feature when searching for a book, but these changes really do not provide an “Amazon” type of search experience that is customized for each user. In addition, I am finding that many services I covet, like Library Elf, a LibGuides custom search widget for your card catalog, and Library Thing for Libraries do not interface with Destiny because of its structure. If open source OPACS and catalog overlays for searching and discovering like AquaBrowser can provide tag clouds, more relevant titles suggestions, bookmarking ability, and other custom features, why can’t Follett do this? Why isn’t a text messaging feature built in? While I appreciate that Follett welcomes customer “enhancements”, should I really have to wait for them do what open source OPACS are already doing? Follett Destiny developers—I (and I am sure am not alone) am tired of waiting—we need you to be proactive and give us K-12 librarians a catalog interface that makes sense for today’s users.
[ ] Moviemaking Software: MovieMaker is not cutting it. Even with all the great support from our tech staff and students diligently following all instructions, MovieMaker often proves to be flaky. In addition, the students who have the newer version for Windows Vista at home are up the creek if they finalize the movie at home and then want to show it at school. I cannot tell you how frustrated students, teachers, tech staff, and I were by the problems we encountered this spring in spite of our best efforts to head off problems. I need an affordable and easy to learn piece of movie creation software for advanced video projects that will support the CODEC for inexpensive cameras (like FLIP) as well as the limited number of more sophisticated video cameras we (and the ones our students bring) own. Suggestions?
I know there are probably other latent wishes that aren’t on this list, but these are the most pressing wishes I have for now.
What is on your wish list? What do you dream of?