Monday, December 16, 2013

Windows Surface: A tablet for librarians to consider?

For December 2013, a relatively new tablet is on the market, the Windows Surface. As such I wanted to weigh in my few thoughts on this device as compared with the iPad. (Just to make it clear, I am not paid from blogging or to blog about any of these technologies.)

Unfortunately, I have not played around with the Windows Surface. In fact, I must confess that I have only played around the iPad 1 that I borrowed from my faculty's resource centre. I recently used the borrowed iPad to watch videos for a free online course I am taking, read a thesis, and to read some electronic copies of journal articles using i-Books. Despite the inexperience in using Windows Surface, I still wanted to give my opinions based on research that I have undertaken on the subject of tablet adoption in libraries.

In Scale (2013), I found that some early adopter librarians adopted tablets based on their own personal experience with the device. This is problematic as it is clear that some have sought to incorporate personal devices meant for individual use into an institutional setting that requires the device to be used by many persons or multiple users (Scale, 2013).

In my view, librarians need a more logical and systematic approach to determining what technology to adopt and implement in libraries. Librarians need an approach that is based on the mission of the library and the design of the device to help the library carry out its mission. While it is true that tablets and e-readers are meant for consuming digital content of which libraries have a mission to collect and acquire (Scale, 2013), we need to see which devices are best designed to do so without compromising principles such as the privacy of our patrons as well as adopt devices that are designed for use by multiple institutional users and not the ones that are meant for personal individual use. (See also my blog post critiquing this and recommending instead smart touch screen tables).

In this regard, I appreciate Windows Surface, which has been designed specifically for use within institutions ('Surface RT', 2013; Intel® Corporation, 2012). Surface RT is a tablet device designed for multiple user accounts ('Surface RT', 2013). Further, the device is already compatible with Microsoft Office and SkyDrive cloud storage, making it a useful device for not only consuming electronic media, but also creating content. Finally, it allows one to use a keyboard, rather than having to use the small touch screen keyboard that I disliked on the iPad 1 (see previous blog post).

Hence I conclude that it is perhaps worthwhile for librarians thinking about tablet adoption for their institution to consider Microsoft's Surface. I recommend getting the vendors to demonstrate its capabilities. So if you are still doing shopping for the holidays, go over to the computer store and check it out. Anyways, happy holidays and new year to you all! And I hope you  continue to stay tune to this blog in 2014 for more updates and blog posts.

I also looked back at my 2011 experiments with the iPad (see post 1 and post 2) and found that I have a greater appreciation for tablets today. My main areas of appreciation is the ability to enlarge the text to read of electronic journal articles or thesis papers as well as the capability to search and find a specific keyword. To me, these are the best part of e-reading over reading the printed page. However, I still prefer the navigation system of print. Let's see if future tablets will change my preference.


Intel® Corporation. (2012). Business innovation unleashed. Intel® IT Center Tablet Hanbook. Retrieved from

Scale, M-S. E. (2013). Tablet adoption and implementation in academic libraries: A qualitative analysis of librarians' discourse on blogging platforms. Library Hi Tech News, 30(5), 5-9.
Surface RT - The original Microsoft tablet (2013). Microsoft Retrieved from

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