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PALS Writing Group: Technology Push for 2019

Tammy Garrison
Tammy Garrison

 

By Tammy Garrison, Executive Director
Clinton County Libraries, Annie Halenbake Ross Library

Annie Halenbake Ross Library, part of the Clinton County Libraries, has been making significant strides to be ready for the 2020s, a decade that is approaching with ferocious speed. We’ve also faced the challenge of paying for new technology initiatives with the limited funding that most PA libraries face.

 

New projects include:
Faster Internet
The library has been making do with a 25mbps connection for many years. The upgrade will help library patrons conduct business at a faster pace, and will create a better image for the library as a technology hub. This change was paid for by asking–and receiving–an increase in funding from Clinton County. We advocated strongly for the library, explaining that the speed increase would help the people of Clinton County with everything from homework to job searches to keeping in contact with family members. The county was very receptive to our ideas and granted the increase.

New Display Monitors
Through the assistance of a local business person with a strong mind for community, we were able to purchase three 48” monitors for our lobby, front desk area, and children’s wing. The monitors display library events for the coming month. We’re hoping to, in the near future, display the names of people and organizations that sponsor library initiatives and events.

New Programming
Currently, the library is host to an AmeriCorps member who specializes in technology assistance. She provides help to seniors at local facilities, and in-house assistance and walk-up consultation. Soon she will be providing more formal programming to assist individuals with mobile devices who want to access Libby and other digital services. The library will also be promoting library services, starting with digital services, through displays that detail the benefits of these services.  This is done for only in-kind costs through the AmeriCorps organization.

Mobile Computer Lab
The library has a mobile computer lab with machines that are ten years old. This is an extraordinary life for such machines. Rather than buying new computers, we have made upgrades to our MacBook Pros to allow for the efficient running of the Windows 8 operating system. This will extend the life of these laptops and provide the time necessary to discover new ways to fund a new solution for our mobile lab. The cost came out of the technology budget, but was marginal compared to the cost of new machines.

Additionally, a pilot project will be launched later this year that will allow patrons to check out the mobile lab computers for in-house use. In-house use of these particular machines may continue even after the mobile lab is replaced, which will solve some security concerns.

New Staff Computers
Staff computers have not been upgraded for many years, and, like the mobile lab, have seen use well past the life expectancy of such machines. Currently, we are working on a grant to fund the replacement of 10 machines, one of which is a Windows 2000 machine with a CRT monitor. These machines will work with our faster internet to enhance our patrons’ experience at the library and will strengthen the public’s view of the library as a technology hub.

These changes are not easy, and they are not coming all at once. Finding ways to defray the costs have been challenging, but solutions can often be found by working with local businesses and by seeking grants for specific projects. As traders in information, it’s vital that we provide quality access to the information superhighway.

What technology initiatives are you working on in your library? Let me know at ross1@rosslibrary.org.

 

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