For those of you who don’t know, I am a public librarian. I work at the reference desk at a medium-sized library in central Indiana. And today…

My library bought an iPad.

It’s for staff use. I’m part of a team that will be learning to use various personal gadgets, such as the iPad, to download the audiobooks, e-books, and videos that are available to our patrons for checkout. After we’ve learned the process on all of the gadgets, we’re going to teach the rest of the library staff as well. We decided to purchase a Sony Pocket Reader, an iPad, and a Zune video MP3 player. This decision was made roughly a week after I had attended a webinar on gadgets in the library, which was informative and exciting but prompted me to lament to my manager because I didn’t foresee the library’s equipment budget allowing for such purchases any time soon. Luckily, several managers felt staff needed to know how to use these new fangled things if we’re to have any hope of assisting patrons that have them.

I’d been curious about the iPad since I first saw it, wondering how this new device would perform compared to a smartphone or a laptop. It’s true that I secretly want one for myself even though I’ve never really wanted an Apple product before, and I’m not sure I can justify needing one. I do have a desktop and a laptop computer, after all. Although, the laptop is about five years old now and becoming sluggish…

Anyway, the techie in me was doing an Irish jig on top of the world when one of the managers brought the iPad to me this morning. Aside from the staff member that slapped the inventory sticker onto it, I was the first person to behold its shininess. I was the first person to start smearing my fingerprints across its pristine screen.

I am intrigued. I cannot wait to see the future of touch interfaces and how they will be used in libraries of all kinds, beyond their obvious uses as media readers/players. Will a touch interface become the new library catalog, allowing patrons to explore a library’s collection in new, interactive ways? The touch interface is so intuitive, as many users of the iPad have demonstrated with their videos of their two-year-olds and savvy cats. This could be a major advantage over some traditional catalog interfaces that patrons find clunky and hard to navigate.

I was bummed that I couldn’t bring the iPad home with me to continue learning and exploring over the weekend. Fortunately, some friends who are staying at our house this weekend bought their own iPad today! “Everything’s shiny, captain!”