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Staff Technology Sandbox: Project Overview

Guide to using mobile devices and ebook readers.

Project Overview


TO: All Library Staff

FROM: Staff Technology Sandbox Project Team

DATE: March 4, 2011

The Library is pleased to announce the creation of the Staff Technology Sandbox, a project that allows Library staff to experiment and become familiar with some of the latest handheld wireless devices (e-book readers, tablets, etc.) associated with information access and management. In addition to preparing staff to better respond to patron questions about these devices, direct experimentation with e-book readers and tablets will allow us to begin thinking about and developing innovative services for users of mobile technologies, a patron group that will see tremendous growth over the next several years: "[S]tudies show that by 2015, 80% of people accessing the Internet will be doing so from mobile devices. Perhaps more important for education, Internet- capable mobile devices will outnumber computers within the next year." (2011 Horizon Report)

The Staff Technology Sandbox currently consists of:

  • 3 Amazon Kindle e-book readers (WiFi)
  • 3 B&N Nook e-book readers  (WiFi, 2 color touch screen and 1 black/white touchpad)

Joining the Kindles and Nooks very soon will be:

  • 3 Apple iPads (Apple iOS, touch screen, WiFi)
  • 3 Archos Internet Tablets (Google Android OS, touch screen, WiFi)

Beginning next Monday, March 7, sandbox devices are available for a 3-day checkout (with a 3-day renewal subject to device availability) from Jean Moyer and Terry Caton in the University Librarian’s Office. 

E-Book Content and Apps

The e-book readers are not linked to a credit card and therefore won’t be able to access and download paid books from the vendor e-book stores. However, all e-book readers come pre-loaded with a few titles to experiment with, and you are encouraged to download free e-books from the Google ebookstore, Project Gutenberg, Open Library, Internet Archive, etc.

Archos tablets have some pre-installed applications ready for use. Additional free apps can be downloaded directly from the Android Market store.

iPads are linked to a Library iTunes account that will carry a small dollar-value credit. For the purposes of work-related experimentation, you may use this credit to purchase relevant paid apps from the Apple App Store (please limit purchases to $4.99 or less).

Training and Support

One of the main goals of the project is to encourage individual experimentation and self-directed learning with mobile technologies. Each device will be checked out with the manufacturers “Getting Started” booklet, and most devices have a comprehensive electronic user manual loaded on the device. In addition, tip sheets for finding and adding new content to the devices will be made available on the Library's LibGuides home page.

For those who prefer to learn more about tablets and e-book readers prior to testing them out, OIT will be offering a Productive Scholar session on tablets and e-book readers on Thursday, March 31, 12:00 noon in Frist Multipurpose Room A. In addition, LETC members will be sponsoring “new technology clinics” that showcase the devices later this spring.

Members of the project team (see below) are also happy to assist with device questions. 

Project Assessment

The project team is very interested in gathering your impressions and feedback about the various devices. A short printed survey will accompany each device upon check out. You will be asked for the completed survey when a device is turned in.

Device Care and Maintenance

Prior to check-in, individuals are responsible for transferring and/or removing any personal files created on a particular sandbox device. All devices will be periodically reset to a default state.

All devices must be returned fully charged and in their boxes/cases, along with all cords, cables, and instruction booklets. Device screens should be cleaned of fingerprints and smudges using the microfiber cloths provided with the device (note that many tablet manufacturers advise against using liquid cleaners on touch screen devices). 

While manufacturers like to promote the scratch- and drop-resistant construction of their products, do exercise care when using or transporting devices. Hardware or software problems should be reported to Jean or Terry when returning the devices.

We hope you enjoy experimenting with these innovative devices, and afterwards, we encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas for new services the Library can provide that leverage the capabilities and functionalities of handheld wireless technologies.


Library Staff Technology Sandbox Project Team

Jennifer Baxmeyer
Trevor Dawes
Anne Langley
Adriana Popescu
Keith Gresham