Brash Jobs: Libraries 101

Hey there, friends!

As I’ve started putting together my upcoming series of job posts, I’ve been getting bombarded with questions, comments, concerns, observations, and more. While most of them are from people who are on board with a library job, I get many from people who have no library experience and are on the fence about it. Many of them include:

  • How do I know if a library career is for me?
  • What if I don’t like [insert problem]?
  • What if a library doesn’t have a job for me?
  • What if I don’t have the skills the library is looking for?

WHOA UP, THERE.

I’ll have you know that most of these can be answered just by reading on. Right now, the biggest problem you probably have is that you don’t know what you don’t know. I’ll try to fix that today by breaking down the main types of libraries to help you figure out where you’d be a good fit. Today, I’m going to touch on:

  • Academic Libraries
  • Public Libraries
  • School Libraries (Not to be confused with academic libraries!)
  • Specialty Libraries

Most of the names are fairly self-explanatory, but maybe you just went from “Hmmm…I guess I could work in that library across town” to “Wait, the college has a library across the street from my apartment? I never knew!”

Nowadays in our age of technology, a librarian does way more than just “check out materials” and “shelve books”. Technology whiz and trainer, information detective, project or team manager, literacy savant, community programming coordinator, reader’s advisor/material reviewer, children’s storyteller, and acquisitions agent are just a few of the hats a public librarian wears. A job in today’s public libraries offers a diverse and exciting range of responsibilities, projects, and opportunities.

To give you an idea, let’s say you were living in Gainesville, FL, attending the University of Florida where I went for my Bachelors. Gainesville, which is located in Alachua County, is home to several libraries and collections. How many, you ask? Let’s go through the numbers.

1. The University of Florida, which houses

  • Library West (Humanities & Social Sciences, Judaica Library)
  • Smathers Library East (Maps & Imagery Library, Latin American & Caribbean Collections, Special Studies & Areas Collections)
  • Marston Science Library (Agriculture, Life Sciences, Engineering, Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Earth Sciences)
  • Architecture and Fine Arts Library (Art, Architecture, Building Construction, Interior Design, Urban Planning, Music and more)
  • Education Library (Counselor Education, Educational Administration & Policy, Educational Psychology, School of Teaching & Learning, Special Education, and more)
  • Health Science and Center Library (Dentistry, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine)
  • Levin College of Law (Legal Information Center and most manners of Law)

And those are just UF’s main ones. Other sites include:

  • Mead Library (at P.K. Younge Research School)
  • Off-Campus Government Documents Library
  • An online Business Library
  • An online Digital Collections Library (Baldwin Children’s Literature Collection, Samuel Proctor Oral History Collections, Florida Photograph Collections, Aerial Photography Collection and more)
  • The Borland Health Science Library (Located in Jacksonville)
  • The Florida Academic Repository (FLARE)
  • The Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF, where I used to work!)

Think libraries are a dying thing? Then why is UF proposing to build and change more facilities? These would be:

  • Marston Science Library turning a floor into a Collaboration Commons
  • Library West’s Colonnade
  • Historic Newell Hall being turned into a Student Learning Commons
  • A new Shared Storage Facility

For more information on any of the above, you can check UF’s Collection list here.

UF has a handy-dandy map and everything.

UF’s library website has a handy-dandy map and everything.

2. Santa Fe College, a smaller college on the other side of town, is home to the Lawrence W. Tyree Library.

3. Alachua County Public Library System has 12 branches in Gainesville and the surrounding areas.

All told, that makes for 27 library facilities, totaling over 40 collections and libraries.

I wonder what else you might learn today.

I wonder what else you might learn today.

Now that your mind has been slightly blown, let’s dive into these and find the one for you!

Academic Libraries

Academic libraries serve colleges and universities, their students, staff and faculty. Larger institutions may have several libraries on their campuses dedicated to serving particular schools such as law, medical and science libraries. Many academic librarians become specialists in an area of knowledge and can have faculty status – even tenure!

As described by the American Library Association, “Concentration of the main and branch libraries is frequently on the needs of specific fields or departments of study at a research level. The needs of academic library users fall on a spectrum, with use of introductory research materials and instruction in the research process at one end and primary source materials and highly specialized research services at the opposite end…The separate undergraduate library, where it exists, provides a designated place in which undergraduates are the primary focus, for whom the space is specifically designed, and in which they are not displaced by faculty or graduate students.”

So what kind of libraries can you find on campus? A few include:

  • Law Libraries
  • Medical Libraries
  • Architecture Libraries
  • Fine Arts Libraries

Or you can just re-read that bit above on the University of Florida and see how many libraries and collections they have.

Public Libraries

As the name implies, public libraries serve the public and are committed to communities of all demographics – any size and type. Wherever you live, there’s a good chance a local library isn’t too far. Public libraries often have departments that focus on areas of service, such as youth, teens and adults. In other words, we have something for you from the time you’re in diapers until the time you’re back in diapers again. According Foundations of Library and Information Science author Rubin Richards, “There are five fundamental characteristics shared by public libraries. The first is that they are generally supported by taxes (usually local, though any level of government can and may contribute); they are governed by a board to serve the public interest; they are open to all, and every community member can access the collection; they are entirely voluntary in that no one is ever forced to use the services provided; and public libraries provide basic services without charge.” I’m still glad I kept my text books from grad school!

If you really want to get technical, there are different types of public libraries – namely association libraries, municipal public libraries, school district libraries and special district public libraries – whose differences are primarily who governs and funds them. A good example would be in Harris County in Texas, where Houston is located. Let’s separate them out!

  • Houston has its own public library system (Houston Public Library System)
  • Harris County also runs a public library system (Harris County Public Library System)
  • Further south of Houston, the city of Baytown has its own city library (Sterling Municipal Public Library)

It can get very confusing on occasion, but they all serve the public. It also means more job opportunities!

School Libraries

School libraries are usually part of a school system (be it private or public) serving students from K-12. Today, many are called media centers, requiring many school librarians to have a second degree in education or a certificate in school media.

Today’s school librarian works with both students and teachers to facilitate access to information in a wide variety of formats. A good school librarian teaches students (and often teachers) how to acquire, evaluate and use information and the technological tools needed. The goal is to help introduce children and young adults to literature and other resources to broaden minds and skill sets – lifelong skills, I should say!.

 

Special Libraries

Special libraries go by many names: libraries, information centers, information resource collections, archives, or just about any other name that the institution picks. Special libraries are much more specialized than traditional libraries and deal with more specific kinds of information to better serve particular populations. By that, I mean they are developed to support the mission of their sponsoring organization and their collections and services are more targeted and specific to the needs of their clientele. Some examples could be:

  • Disability Libraries (i.e. libraries for blind, physically challenged)
  • Government Libraries (Library of Congress, Presidential Library)
  • Seed Libraries (usually at said agricultural and botanical centers)
  • Christian/Biblical Libraries (in Rome, think Angels and Demons)
  • Slide Libraries (usually at medical libraries or the Center for Disease Control)
  • Lending Libraries (“take a book, leave a book” places, great for friends!)
  • Green Libraries (Sustainable nurseries designed to help improve building quality)
  • Private Libraries (either belonging to a single person or group)
  • Subscription Libraries (membership-only libraries that charge a membership fee)
  • Drama Libraries (There are libraries just full of theater plays, yay actors!)
  • Research Institute Libraries (for scientists to find the information they need quickly)
  • Botanical and Horticultural Libraries
  • Corporate Libraries
  • Hospital Libraries
  • Military Libraries
  • Museum Libraries
  • Prison Libraries

Special libraries may or may not be open to the general public, and those that are may offer services similar to public, academic, or children’s libraries; some of these libraries will have restrictions (only lending books to patients at a hospital, restricted areas in parts of a military collection, etc). These libraries offer unique opportunities to work in a specialized environment and may or may not have a traditionally trained/qualified librarian on staff.. In other words, your boo-hoo “I can’t be a librarian, my Masters is in chemistry!” story won’t work on me. You could be a university medical librarian or a chemistry librarian at Dow Chemical Company.

…Whew, there where more bullets in this post than all of Commando.

Seriously, watch this movie.

That movie has ALL the bullets.

Feel like you’re a step closer to being in the library industry? I sure hope so. As always, feel free to comment or question either here or on my Facebook page.

Stay tuned as we start delving further into Brash Jobs!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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What Library School DOESN’T Teach You

Hello Everyone!

This week I thought I’d put up something both serious and funny for my fellow library peeps. Anyone who has gone to library school can agree that library school teaches you only a few select skills you need. Dewey decimal, research methods and other skills are taught, but the majority of real skills you need aren’t taught in library school. To be honest, some of them can’t be taught. Any librarian can tell that when you enter the library field, there will be on-the-job training – and I don’t mean like learning what circulation software you’re running.

As you learn these skills and apply them, you’ll eventually get the most famous library question a co-worker or occasional patron can ask:

“Did you learn that in library school?”

If you work in a smaller library that doesn’t have as many MLS/MLIS people on staff, you’re more likely to hear this phrase than in a larger system; I guarantee you’ve either heard it or will hear it some day. What don’t they teach in library school, you ask?

Unclogging toilets.

Checking bathrooms at closing time is scary.

Checking bathrooms at closing time is scary.

I still remember the first time I unclogged a library bathroom toilet, particularly the moment I walked out – plunger still in hand – and was asked by a co-worker “Did they teach you how to do that in library school?”

Yes, that is EXACTLY what they teach us. Got the degree and everything.

Changing light bulbs.

Okay, it's not usually this bad.

Okay, it’s not usually this bad.

Generally, large fluorescent tubes and really high stuff gets changed by maintenance/buildings and grounds/etc, but there are times when there’s one screwy bulb that needs fixing sooner rather than later. Maybe the bulb above the door or the little bulb in the display case, you never know. I’ve had co-workers that make it seem like changing a light bulb is a Mission: Impossible task. (do-do-dooo…)

Device and Computer Support.

TRUTH.

TRUTH. EXCEPT FOR THE TYPO.

Maybe you had a class that covered E-books, or some kind of technology class, but those will not prepare you for computer and device trials that await you. Nothing short of a previous IT job can help you with the trouble that comes with learning a new circulation system or dealing with the public access computers (PACs) that patrons use. Either web pages don’t load, the internet is down (or just really slow), the printer is not working properly, the copier is just a 3-foot tall paperweight…problems happen, and sometimes IT isn’t there to resolve the problem for who knows how long.

…Just when you thought it was all fixed, a patron will come in with a technical problem and we’re back to square one.

Social Marketing.

And this is just a drop in the bucket of stuff out there.

And this is just a drop in the bucket of stuff out there.

Oh, your library is on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, Photobucket, Blogspot, WordPress AND Myspace? Who manages all that stuff?

Depending on whose spot you’ve just filled, what department you’re in, etc…it could be

YOU.

If you’ve never had a Googly-Face-Twitter-Insta-Tumblr, you’re about to have one. In a good library system, they’ll get you access to workshops and webinars on social media and platform-specific classes that can help you be the most efficient machine possible. And in this case, TECHNOLOGY IS YOUR FRIEND. At my last library, I had a Facebook Page Manager app on my phone (and it’s free!) that would let me post directly to the library’s page. It allowed me to post photos and videos from my phone straight to the page – I could have Story Time’s pictures and videos up and loaded before Story Time was even over.

Maybe you’re put in an even weirder position like me. I had a library that wanted me to get their Facebook page up and running…except it was owned by somebody else. “They created it without our permission…can we get it from them?” Oh, and I wasn’t allowed to ask that person to just give me control, because long-standing politics. Long story short, I contacted Facebook, told them that a page had been created by non-library personnel, and requested control to be (quietly) transferred to me.

And this all before I could even get the page going.

The Annoyed Librarian has written on this topic before:

I noticed a notice that the ACRL NMDG wants speakers willing to travel to ALA Midwinter and talk about “things they wish they had learned in library school.”

They seem very excited about it. “Who knew that you’d become a web designer, marketing director, and reference librarian all in one?!” Actually, the answer to that question is easy, since no one really is all those things. The ability to make webpages doesn’t make you a “web designer,” just as putting up flyers or posting to the library Facebook page doesn’t make you a “marketing director.”

I’d partially agree with her, but I counter: If you’re the only person in your library who does marketing and runs all the social media outlets, then you ARE the marketing director. If you’re the only person updating the Facebook page, printing flyers and distributing them, then you ARE the marketing director. If you are the person solely charged with editing and updating your library web pages, then you ARE the web designer. As somebody once said, “if sh*t doesn’t get done when you’re not there, you’re the director of said sh*t.” Sorry Annoyed, but that’s what they are – regardless of what their title actually states. You don’t see “Lightbulb Changer” or “Toilet Unclogger” on my business card, either.

Dealing with Odd, Odd People

Every place needs a regular.

Every place needs a regular.

If you’ve worked in or frequented a library, you know that a large quantity of our patrons are homeless, mentally challenged or both. As servants of the public, it’s our duty to help these people – but sometimes, you’ll come across the truly peculiar people. You know, the guy with the mountain man beard who covers his monitor in foil so “the damn gubment and the aliens can’t steal my emails and that wee-fee (wifi) stuff”.

Those kind of guys are pretty tame next to the more disturbing ones who like to stuff poop into the book drop or throw bricks through the window. Bleh.

Office Politics

The politics, not so much the sex/violence.

The politics, not everybody dying and stuff.

Most jobs have inner-office politics, and libraries are no different. Power struggles, passive-aggressive behavior, eating somebody else’s lunch, stealing somebody’s pen or coffee mug, etc – the wrong mix of people in the wrong environment can be a breeding ground of psychological warfare. Politics are what separate an honest mistake from “I know that b*tch is just trying to mess with me!”

For the most part, I’ve been lucky enough to work in places that had a good group of people.

 

That’s all for this week’s post! Do YOU have strange, crazy library stories or duties that weren’t in your job description? Let me know and I can feature them in the next installment of What they don’t teach you in Library School! Stories? Horrible bosses? Crazy patrons? I want to hear them! Either send them to me or comment below!

Until next time,

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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Banned Books Week!

HEY KIDS!

It’s Banned Books Week from the 21st through the 27th: one of the Brash-est weeks of the year! Have you taken the Columbus State Community College’s “What Banned Book Are You?” Quiz? If you haven’t, take it here and find out!

For my quiz, I got Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, a book from 1958 that I haven’t read…but now I want to!

Not sure I totally agree with that, but hey.

Not sure I totally agree with that, but hey.

This was put together by librarians at Columbus State Community College – CSCC is one of seven organizations to win Banned Books Week grants from the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund.

For more on Banned Books Week activities sponsored by Freedom to Read Foundation grant recipients, visit http://www.ftrf.org/members/blog_view.asp?id=852091&post=197195.   Other Banned Books Week events around the country can be found at www.bannedbooksweek.org/events if you’re so inclined. Mad props to Jonathan Kelley at the Freedom to Read Foundation for sending this my way!

That’s all I’ve got for this week, keeping it short and sweet while I work on my new “get a job in the library industry” series coming up. Keep voting from last week’s post on what you want to see most!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Where has the Brash Librarian been? Time to know.

Hey friends!

I know I’ve been incognito for a bit lately, though for good reason. You know how packing and moving can be…

That’s right, The Brash Librarian has taken a new job – IN TEXAS!

...Well then.

…Well then. I guess we’re not in Florida anymore.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been packing my apartment, taking a U-haul a thousand miles away from friends and family and joining a new library system. I had a great time with my last library, and I made some amazing friends I’ll never forget and will take away more lessons than I can remember. (Good thing I wrote the rest down.)

During my time of moving, I’ve given more thought as to what kinds of posts I should be making and what topics to cover besides me. As much as I know you guys love to hear adventures of mud races, Disney World, and other shenanigans, I know that you’re also here for the down and gritty librarian stuff as well. In the past, I’ve asked you guys for advice – thing like “What do you guys want?” and “What would you guys like to see more of?” with Katy and other people chipping in.

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing more business corresponding. Whether it’s spit-balling side project ideas with Amy Herman from Art of Perception or my former grad school classmate Lizzy asking for advice for breaking into the Texas library market, I’ve noticed that much of my Brash Librarian questions and projects have been more and more business related and less Tough Mudder stuff. Less Brash, more Librarian.

It’s only now that I realize I shouldn’t have asked “What do you guys want?”, but rather “What do you guys need?”

 As questions for help in the job market have risen, I have decided to rise to the occasion. I will be shifting my focus onto more business-related topics, i.e. resumes, interviews, and other advice geared specifically towards librarians. As always, please feel free to post comments or questions on here or on my Facebook page should you feel inclined!

Don’t worry, it’s not like the blog itself is changing. I started this blog to show how awesome librarians are to the world and kids who were on the fence about library science, or “breaking librario-types” as I’ve heard it. Let’s be real: If you’ve followed me on here or Facebook for more than a week, you know that librarians are some of the most fantastic, rad, super-rockin-wicked-mad-awesome people you’ve ever met.

(If this is your first time here, hi. I’m one of the most fantastic, rad, super-rockin-wicked-mad-awesome people you’ll ever meet.)

Howdy! I'm on a plane.

Howdy! I’m on a plane.

I promise I’ll still post things like my upcoming Spartan Race in October, but they will just be a little less frequent. Only six weeks away until I complete my Trifecta!

That’s all for now this week. If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to comment here or ask on the Facebook page!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Some Brash Changes

Hey Fans!

For some reason, my WordPress went haywire and deleted my last posting. We’ll have none of that!

I have been some very exciting things on the horizon, and I thought I’d share a few with you. If you haven’t been here since my last post, then you might not have noticed a few new upgrades to my page.

If you look over to your right, you’ll notice that we now have an improved search bar, a stats box, and even a nifty little Facebook box that will take you right my Facebook page. Sweet, right?!?

 

image

Yup, right there. YOU LIKE ME NOW!

“But Justin…Why on Earth would we like you on Facebook if I’m already subscribed to your page here?” Good question, logic! You see, finding time to write blog posts, pull ideas together and such can sometimes be rather cumbersome in the big picture of work, play and everything else in my life. Besides, weekly blog posts mean I only get to entertain and inform you once a week and that’s just not enough! With my Facebook page, I’ll be able to post stuff daily to the whole world. Sweet, right?

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for.

I’ve posted before that I’ve been looking to upgrade my logo, banner, etc and I just haven’t had the right one. I’ve seen a few, but none really jumped out at me. A few from friends like my former sidekick Katy and others from fans, but I think we finally have the one. More than anything, I think it was time we retired Harrison Ford’s face from the blog.

Drumroll…..

Wait for it…

Oh man, I haven’t been this excited since I learned 90s Batman was on Amazon streaming!

(Thanks, Dylan!)

Best Batman ever.

HERE WE GO!

Behold, the new, shiny Brash Librarian!

(Click on it if you want to see the big HD version!)

Dear Paramount Pictures: This is a parody, not copyright infringement.

TA-DAAAA! This work was done by my friend and coworker Shane. If you like his work, let know in the comments below! If you have a photoshop need in your life, Shane is definitely available for hire. I’m pretty sure “Photoshop Mercenary” is on his business card somewhere.

In the next coming week, this will become the new banner for the page! I also have some special news that I will save for next week.

Love it? Hate it? Share your thoughts below!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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A Brash Salute to a Boy Hero!

Evening, fans!

Quite the storms we’ve been having in Florida. Most days seem to be “Oh, what a lovely sunny day we’re hav-” RAAAAWR NO MORE SUNNY DAY FOR YOU, RAIN RAIN NONSTOP FOR ??? MINUTES. Seriously, could be 5 minutes…could be all day.

…What the heck just happened? Mother nature likes to sucker punch us Florida folk.

Eco-terrorism at it’s finest.

For realsies, I’m scared to check my mailbox for fear that a hurricane will take me out before I get back inside.

This week on Brash Librarian, I’m saluting 9-year-old Spencer Collins from Leawood, Kansas – a boy who just wants to share his love for books with the world! Young Mr. Collins runs a free little communal library called “Take a book, Leave a book” inside a small homey box on his front lawn where people can try new books or donate old ones…or rather, he ran it before it was closed down his story aired backed in June.

Capture“When we got home from vacation, there was a letter from the city of Leawood saying that it was in code violation and it needed to be down by the 19th or we would receive a citation,” said Spencer’s mother, Sarah Collins.

This trouble started when two people filed complaints against Spencer’s library, as Leawood bans buildings that aren’t attached to someone’s home. The family moved the little library up into the garage, but Spencer said he plans to take the issue up with the city and “tell them why it’s good for the community and why they should drop the law…I just want to talk to them about how good it is.”

Richard Coleman of Leawood’s City Hall responded saying, “We empathize with them, but we still have to follow the rules…We need to treat everybody the same.” Basically, they can’t grant them special favors just because it’s a cute little library. I totally get that, I’m all for policies and procedures. The real question I have is what horrible, maniacal, heartless person would file a complaint against such a thing? Kids do lemonade stands, girl scout cookies, church things and such all the time. I get the homeowners association “we don’t want activity that lowers our property/neighborhood value” mentality, but this ain’t that kind of party. This isn’t the unauthorized purple/pink/lime green shanty of a shed that’s an eyesore; this is a kid who loves books and is encouraging others to read. THIS IS WHAT LEARNING LOOKS LIKE.

Collins, the ever resourceful boy and maybe future librarian, is using his smarts to fight the system. He states at one point, “I thought, why not get a rope and attach it to our house and the library?” with perfect loophole genius. What’s even better is that his genius is spreading and his cause is gaining ground and support. Since his story aired in June, Collins has been granted temporary permission by the city, he has partnered with Little Free Libraries, a nonprofit organization, and his own Facebook library page has over 32,000 likes, and even celebrities are taking notice!

YOU DON’T MESS WITH LEMONY SNICKET.

Thanks to hard work, perseverance, and a love of books, Spencer Collins got his library opened back up on July 7th. Sorry it had to wait until after the 4th. ‘Merica. Don’t have a little library in your area? Build one!

Spencer Collins, I salute you! You are definitely a Brash, Brash man. We all look forward to your future endeavors and can’t wait to see what else you do!

That’s all for now this week, be sure to like his page on Facebook or mine if you haven’t already!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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Amazon’s Brash New Phone?

Hey Gang!

So for the last week or three, I’ve been hearing much buzz about the new Amazon Fire, Amazon’s entry into the smartphone market. Between Android and iOS, I’m not sure if this little guy will make it. On the other hand, the Kindle Fire HD and HDX are selling better than the Nexus 7 or the iPad. Personally, I really like the Kindle Fire HD (though if you looked at mine, you’d think it’s only an Amazon Video/Netflix device).

No, clicking the play button won’t work.

Amazon’s page has a few demo videos, but CNET has a pretty nice first-look video seen below:

 

As far as phones go, I’m happy with my Droid Maxx, which I’ve had for about 6 months now.

Droid Maxx, carbon fiber on left and glossy on right. I went with carbon fiber!

Phone part aside, it seems to have pretty nifty features, though I’m not totally sold. Let’s look at some of the features “not available on any other smartphone”:

Dynamic Perspective is touted as “A custom-designed sensor system that responds to how you hold, view, and move your phone.” I’ll let Amazon do the talking on this part:

Immersive apps and games

Peek in maps to show Yelp ratings. In StubHub stadium view, see 90 degrees to the left and right of your seat, as if you were actually there, looking around. In games, like Lili, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.

One-handed short cuts

Access menus, shortcuts, and useful information with tilt, swivel, and peek.

Tilt for panels—use the left panel to navigate menus, and the right panel to access useful information and shortcuts, like attaching photos to a text message, viewing song lyrics, and more.

Swivel for access to important notifications and quick actions like Mayday, Flashlight, Settings, and more.

Peek keeps your display uncluttered by revealing additional details and quick actions only when you need it.

One-handed reading

With auto-scroll, scan long web pages without ever having to touch the screen.

Okay, I’ll say it…The 3D screen is awesome. Looking at 3D maps is super cool.

Is it just me, or does it look like Time Lord art?

Another weapon it boasts in its arsenal is Firefly, a super-duper scanner than can scan anything. With one push of a button – yes, they have a button JUST for this feature – you can scan phone numbers, music, TV, pretty much the universe.

Firefly can identify printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards—make calls, save new contacts, send emails, and visit websites without typing long addresses. According to Amazon, “Firefly recognizes over 240,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels. Firefly uses X-Ray, powered by IMDb, to show information on actors, plot details, and related content—add titles to your Watchlist or download to watch later.”

As for music, it can also listen to songs so you can access artist information, play related songs, download albums direct your Fire phone, or add them to your Wish List to later buy if you want. Firefly-enabled apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub, “you can create radio stations based on an identified artist, or even find tickets for their next show.” I don’t how many people make the jump from “Cool song, I’ve never heard this band before” to “OHMYGOD I HAVE TO SEE THEM IN CONCERT”, but I guess that feature will serve them well!

In case those didn’t catch your attention, Firefly can also scan pretty much anything sold on Amazon and add it to your Wish List – over 70 million items and climbing. I don’t really see that as the ultimate selling point, but I can roll with it.

Next, let’s talk about Mayday, the only smart phone to have 24/7 no-waiting assistance. Amazon assures you that “Our tech experts can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best. Throughout the process, you’ll be able to see the Amazon expert live on your screen, but they won’t see you.” Awesome, my two fears about doing something myself or being seen in my pajamas have been allayed. I almost worry that this feels like a phone version of AOL. Help is guaranteed in 15 seconds or less – I hope that will stay that way when a few million people have one.

That’s alot of shiny, but do you need the Fire to do all this? Probably not.

  • Dynamic Perspective: Cool 3D element and interactive games, but I otherwise read “Tilt”, “Swivel”, “Peek” and these other hands-free actions as “you must be too lazy to use your finger, we’ll do the work for you”. I’d probably expend more energy twisting and flicking my wrist using these features.
  • Firefly: Plenty of other programs can identify music, products, and things of the sort. With IMDB, Google Goggles and SoundHound, I’m almost at the same level.
  • Mayday: I’ll admit, 24/7 assistance is handy but I imagine I would use it very rarely. This feels more like a feature for Grandpa who just got his smartphone for Christmas.

Why do I care about this new toy, do you ask?

Because someday, somebody is going to bring that into the library and ask for help on it. And by “ask for help”, I mean “beg me to teach them how to use it”. That’s when I’ll remind them that they Mayday, but “Mayday can’t help me/I don’t know how/I don’t trust them Mayday people/I want YOU to do it” will emerge and I’ll have to work with it. And I’ll be ready because I’ve done my homework. And I’m just very clever!

Bring it in, I’ll still fix it. There isn’t a smartphone that’s out-smarted me yet.

Thanks, David Tennant! He really summed up how I’m feeling about it.

Leave comments below! I want to hear your thoughts on this week’s post!

 

Any other questions in the meantime, post here or ask me on my Facebook page!

Might have another tech one next week, we’ll see…That’s all for now, have fun kids!

Brash Librarian, Justin Brasher

 

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