technology use in libraries – infocamp session

October 14, 2007 at 4:58 pm (1) ()

 This session was mainly presented by Whitney Edwards of the Libraries of Stevens County (where i grew up!).  Stevens County presents some interesting problems for libraries – there is a need for fast connection speed, but the technology hasn’t arrived yet, except along the main highway.  So, everyone with computers that live outside that area are stuck with dial-up.  So, if the library wants their sites to be used by the population, they need to keep them very stripped down.  So their site, is very basic and stripped down, which makes it look a little clunky.  But the site loads quickly on dial-up computers, and people can search through their dial-ups, and that’s good.

So the library, with high speed access to the Internet, becomes the only game in town, not just for people with no computers, but for people with laptops and wifi, and for people with dial-up who want to do anything that requires a little more than the usual bandwidth (which is just about everything online, now, right?)

With all that, the library’s bandwidth gets used up alot – they have free wifi, and laptops that users can check out, and PCs, too.

They have filters on public computers, but lots of discussion around wireless access and filters – no legislation governing it. Use two different wireless connections, one for library laptop checkout, one for patrons who bring in their own laptops.

innovation with limited technology? Wikis, site, courier service to move books around the libraries in the county, site is very lo-tech, low bandwidth on purpose, because most users are on dial-up.

Lots of individualism in each library, so the catalog is shared, but communities, cities, Friends, work mainly with their local library, so no floating collections, for example. Librarians show up at rotary clubs and other local group functions to sell the library services.

http://www.scrld.org is the site for the library, and there’s a link on the site to the county community wiki, which is a great project.  They started it so that people in the county could have a low-bandwidth place to put information about their clubs and businesses for free.  They administrate the wiki, and act as editors, sending out links to organizations with templates to fill in, and instructions.  When people add to the wiki, they make sure that there are navigation links in the entry, etc.  They have sign-ins that make it hard for spammers, which is nice.  They started the wiki, and went to a conference, and kept hearing about this innovative library system that was using a wiki for community resources, so they went around trying to find out who the library system was, so they could get some pointers – then they found out that it was them, and that they were one of the first library systems in the US to do this.  That’s exciting, and it’s funny too – you look around for a good tool to solve a problem, and you put that tool to work, and that’s just it.

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