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Palm Pilot initiative within an academic library Information Commons
UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference, May (2002)
  • D. Russell Bailey, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Barbara Tierney, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
UNC Charlotte Atkins Library Palm Pilot Initiative 

  1. The Atkins Library Information Commons is currently engaged in an experimental “Palm Pilot Initiative” to identify and implement public service applications for Palm Pilots in an “integrated library services” setting
  2. Public Service Desk Staff are encouraged to creatively utilize the Palm Pilot’s unique attributes (its small size, mobility, & portability) while assisting library patrons out on the Floor of the Information Commons.
  3. Special “Atkins Palm Pilot Web Page” has been created that provides staff with convenient access to essential, regularly updated information regarding:
Library’s collections
Staff Equipment and Facilities
Policies and Procedures  

Future Library Scenarios

  1. See more and more college and university colleagues using handhelds at meetings
  2. Patrons carry handhelds into libraries—whether those libraries are special, academic, public, or school
  3. Wireless and infra-red technologies will permit even greater information-seeking use of PDAs
  4. Library information and news information will be available in PDA screen format and “beamable” from infra-red kiosks or wireless antennae located across university campuses
  5. Users will be able to access the latest Web-based databases, including receiving updates of recently released research literature
  6. Users will be able to consult reference staff via an integrated Web chat feature, or a cellular phone module
  7. Reference requests might be beamed from briefcases  as users pass virtual reference desk beaming stations located throughout institutions
  8. Library instructors will beam class assignments to students, and students will transmit completed assignments back to instructors’ PDAs for automatic scoring and instant progress feedback

IX. Barriers to use

  1. Several barriers affect the widespread use of PDA devices
  2. Security is a large barrier 

Potential theft or loss of a PDA unitInfo traveling through the computer network not always secure 
  1. Cost  (Not only do PDAs have to be purchased, but so do servers, appropriate software, and network synchronization stations)  Institutions may be reluctant to make initial investments in PDAs due to the rapid technological changes of these devices.  New PDA units are being released every few months, which brings into question the longevity of current models and the ability to transfer information from older to newer units.
  2. Confusion over the number and variety of PDA models and capabilities that are available
  3.  Rate of obsolescence.  With each new model comes upgraded software and new capabilities, thus making the decision to purchase a device even more difficult, as consumers consider whether they should wait for future releases and enhancements.




I.                   Handhelds in the News

  1. “Mobile Computing” Feb. 2002 cover story
  2. “USA Today”  June 28, 2001
  3.  “Charlotte Observer”   March 2, 2002 Providence Day School article
  4.  “Charlotte Observer”  July 2, 2001Winston Salem School
  • Academic Libraries - Palm Pilots,
  • Information Commons - Palm Pilots
Publication Date
April 11, 2002
Citation Information
D. Russell Bailey and Barbara Tierney. "Palm Pilot initiative within an academic library Information Commons" UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference, May (2002)
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