Graven and digital tablets: new technology at Langsdale

Langsdale On the Go! kiosk

It is difficult to disassociate libraries with books. Drive down any main street in the US and chances are you will run across a public library marked with the logo of a silhouetted human-type-figure sitting with an open book; or maybe you’ll see a logo of a book with its pages flapping haphazardly, whimsically, colorfully in the wind,  inviting you into its mysteries; or maybe the logo will be of a book lying on its spine, whose pages have spontaneously released a butterfly, or whose pages have nurtured a tree to grow – a tree which, chances are, will have at least one apple hanging from its limbs; etc. etc. You get my point. Logo designers need not even be creative in order to make the public come to this association. If anywhere you see a logo of a book, I’m sure you think “library.”

This is of course understandable. Since the clay tablet and the scroll went out of fashion a few hundred years before Guttenberg, the stock and trade of libraries the world over has been those thin pieces of tree bark smeared with ink and squashed between two thicker pieces of tree bark, covered as they are in cloth or gold or ivory or that annoying protective plastic that crinkles when you open it and seems to hold every piece of dust it ever encountered. But just as the graven tablet and the papyrus scroll have come and gone, the book also appears to be fading into the pages (read ‘digital files’) of history. The nostalgia for the printed book aside, there is little reason to lament the end of the book. The library will survive and so will the transmission of knowledge and ideas. It will just look different.

And as an academic library, we are involved in shaping how this transition to digital will look. In addition to bolstering our collection of eBooks, we have been developing new ways to search and find the document (digital, paper,  or otherwise) that you may be looking for. One of the new ways that you can peruse our collection is by way of our Langsdale On the Go! app. This can be saved onto your phone or iPad, and can be used to search for a book, ask a librarian a research question, find an available computer, or get hints on research strategies, among other things. In the spirit of unending progress — from stone tablet, to scroll, to book, and back, in a way, to tablet – we are releasing the app in a beta format and ask students and staff to let us know if anything comes up short of your expectations. And while it is still a work in progress, all of the functions listed above are currently functional. 

 If you don’t have an iPad, or left it at home, you can use one of our iPad kiosks soon to be located throughout the building. These will allow you to do everything you can do on your own device, without lugging it all the way to class.

As time goes on, libraries and archives will look very different than they do right now. And these new developments in technology at Langsdale may just show the difference from where libraries began, to where they will surely go.

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