Monday, June 30, 2008

Guide by Cell -- ALA Exhibit

The annual conference of the American Library Association was in Anaheim, CA this weekend. There were more than 10,000 wonderful librarians and exhibitors to converse with and lots to see and hear. Exhibits were extensive, so I focused on rows dedicated to technology. I'll include a few posts about new cool tools that caught my attention.

One of the first exhibits that jumped out at me was GUIDE BY CELL. It is a way for libraries and museums to offer self-guided tours of their library or special exhibits. Sounds great for an Open House or special fundraising events. It lets you create self-guided audio tours accessible through cell phones. Visitors use their own equipment. NOTE -- when I say "you" it means either you use your own voice or recruit others such as a volunteer with a special voice, members of the drama club, student library assistants, local celebrity -- you are in charge, so you decide. :)

Here is how it works:
  1. Record the tour. Librarian calls a unique phone number to record audio prompts, just like recording voice mail. Or upload existing audio files (interviews, sound effects, songs) into a specific prompt number.

  2. Identify exhibits. Post small numbered identifier signs next to items in your tour.

  3. Visitors guide themselves. To access the audio guides, visitors call in using their own cell phone, then select the item they want to hear. Easy. Visitors may remain connected throughout their visit, or hang up and call back as desired. They may listen to descriptions in any order.

Think about all the visitors, decked out with their finest new hands-free cell phone devices (jewelry), touring your library -- what a Grand Night Out @ the Library.

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