Technology Watch

Apple’s new tablet, named ipad, unveiled on 27 January 2010 is described by the company as  “a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books and much more.” This new piece of technology has aroused the interest of many people and  the library community has immediately started debating about its possible impact on the delivery of library services in the future. It is worth noting that the ipad is not the only device capable of reading digital books available on the market. Other devices from Sony, Barnes and Noble, including Amazon’s popular kindle along with PDA’s are also capable of reading e-documents. Librarians view the coming of such portable devices with mixed feelings. For some, such devices are just “transitional” while others described them as “little mutant experiments”. Jason Griffey has even proclaimed that the “early 2010 is going to be the height of the e-Reader, and late 2010 will see their decline”.

What should be the response of libraries in the light of  a proliferation of such e-Readers? If the promising mobile technologies, with added functionalities, attract more and more users and succeed in changing the information-seeking behaviour of library patrons, librarians will have no alternative than to adapt to the changing realities. Heavy demand from users for e-books will ultimately force libraries to re-define their services to meet new expectations. Failure to do so may entail their elimination as a competitive information provider in the information society.

P. Hauroo