Armed with a cell phone, visitors can tour library

by Mat Grudzien | 10/10/07 12:30am

Those who missed the Baker-Berry Library open house held on Oct. 4 -- and possess a cell phone -- need not worry, now that library users can take a tour of the library using their cell phones, thanks to a recently introduced program.

The technology allows students to take a tour of the library by dialing a number on their cell phones and listening to a series of pre-recorded descriptions of different library locations and resources.

With the introduction of this system, Baker library joins institutions such as Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library, both of which already offer similar audio tours.

The initial idea to institute the program at Dartmouth was proposed by Ridie Ghezzi, the head of research and instructional services at the Baker Library, and the tour was organized by reference librarian Andrea Bartelstein.

"She read an article on the Guide Cell company that organizes audio tours such as ours," Bartelstein said. "We decided to prepare the core group of tour stops for the open house we had last Thursday."

Currently, the audio tour consists of nine stops, which are printed on the informative map available in the library, including the reference desk and the library's archives. Three additional stops may be added soon.

Stops may be visited in any desired order, and students don't particularly need to be present in the library to take the tour. Students can listen to the recordings anywhere, and there is no special surcharge on the call.

"The only way in which you pay is by using up your minutes," Bartelstein explained.

The library staff is now concentrating on advertising the tour.

"We're going to have a lot more stops, but now we're working on the publicity," Bartelstein said.

According to Bartelstein, the tour is recorded entirely by the College. Guide Cell provides only the storage and the phone number.

"We can add as many stops as we want, and update them as frequently as we want," Bartelstein said. "In fact, we're trying to get more students involved in recording the tour. I think it would be more interesting for them to hear their peers, not the library staff, speak."

Bartelstein also has plans for the program's future development.

"We are hoping that in the future we will make the tour available as a podcast that everyone can download from our website," she said.

The library is also preparing an frequently asked questions service, Bartelstein said. Students would be able to dial the number and get immediate answers to common information-desk inquiries.

Further expansion may also involve joining the audio tour with the College's other libraries, Bartelstein said.

Many Dartmouth students are not yet familiar with the existence of the audio library tour. One student who is, however, said she plans on taking it.

"Now that I know about it, maybe I'm going to check it out one day," Rebecca Glover '11 said.

Bartelstein said she hopes students won't just use the new technology, but will actually improve it.

"We strongly encourage people to try it out, and also you can record a feedback after taking the tour," Bartelstein said, "That would help us a lot, we highly value all opinions and suggestions."

To access the tour, dial 603-283-6890.

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