A brand new place…

If you suddenly found yourself in a brand new place, without knowing anyone in the community, where would you go first to find out information about:

  • local services
  • entertainment
  • education
  • social programs
  • free wi-fi until yours is set up
  • activities for you and your children
  • job opportunities
  • housing….

…all for FREE?

The public library, of course! You can’t these things at your local big box store, that’s for sure.

#OPLW

Advertisements

Are You Speeding?

In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission in the US (the FCC), estimated that nearly 46% of Americans living in rural communities do not have regular access to high speed internet. The number would be similar here in Canada. And while high speed internet might not be seen as an essential service, it means that these people might be able to surf the web at home, but they won’t be able to stream content such as movies, or download websites that have a great deal of active content on their sites. And for those that can stream the odd bit of content pay much more for their internet fees than those in high population urban areas.

What does that mean for people? It’s about much more than just not being able to binge-watch Netflix. It means children won’t have access to some school activities or homework. It means that children (not to mention adults) will be missing out on important cultural references that their peers are taking for granted. It also means that families don’t have regular access to things that they might need to use, such as government websites, weather and news sites, and health information. When it takes too long for something to download, or a person knows the time they spend waiting will cost them extra that month, they’re reluctant to use it.

That’s where public libraries come in. It’s hard to believe, but not everyone has a cell phone or mobile device. That means people need reliable high-speed access from a free source that they can use regularly. And they need it at convenient times. Our community is a perfect example of this, with Beckwith and Mississippi Mills making up a large majority of the rural population. We have regular users, drop ins, and seasonal users of our computers, as well as people who come by just to use the free WiFi. We’re definitely an important part of the rural community.

If you didn’t have access to high speed internet, would you miss it?

#OPLW

 

 

 

Library Spaces

It’s true–space is always at a premium for libraries. We can’t keep every old book, but we also need space for new books. And now with digital content becoming more prevalent everywhere, we also need storage space online. And space equals money.

But space is not just about the building. It’s also about content. Books take us on journeys, and libraries provide those books. We can sit in a library and be whisked away to places we might never visit, to adventures we might never take part in, and meet people we might never encounter.

Libraries are also about real life, however. They are places that teach children to read. They help people find jobs and shelter and education. They are places where you can meet people, engage with others, and create long-lasting friendships. People often come to the library as a community landing spot, or jumping-off point. It’s a safe zone for children, and a quiet space for adults. It’s an entertainer, a teacher, and a respected community member.

Libraries are centers of learning, training, updating, forging, creating, establishing, and continuing. Money can’t solve every issue that libraries face these days, but it certainly needs to be part of the community discussion.

What kind of journey are you on?

#OPLW

The Internet and Libraries

The internet vs. the library.

It is a well-debated topic. Are libraries still relevant when we have instant access to information on the internet? Being in a public library setting on a daily basis, I can strongly argue that not only does the internet make libraries more relevant, but it makes us almost indispensable.

Take for example, this quote:

The library is one of the only places people ca go to get free, unlimited personal assistance navigating the online universe.

——-Mandy McGee, Adult Services Supervisor at Elmwood Park Public Library (excerpt taken from THIS IS WHAT A LIBRARIAN LOOKS LIKE by Kyle Cassidy)

This is so true on many levels. We have five public access computers, as well as free wi-fi at our library. Many larger libraries probably have even more to offer, including the use of devices such as tablets that they can borrow. Every day, we have many questions from people who are using the internet—including how to print a page, how to save a document to a USB drive or to the computer, where to find phone numbers, maps, or addresses, how to open an email account, how to use Facebook, and a variety of countless things that might only pop up once in a while.

People need us. Not everyone has their own computer. Not everyone knows how to use a computer to look up information or to apply for jobs or funding. Not everyone understands how to access public wi-fi. While we strive to help everyone find and use the information online that they want, sometimes, it will take a little more than just a quick five minutes. So, we also offer weekly tech-tutoring, which is a one-on-one session with our “tech-spert” to go over whatever technical questions a person would like to learn. Our tech tutor teaches people how to double click a mouse, how to save documents into files, where to log into the internet, how to access public wi-fi, how to print something, what certain programs are capable of doing, and much, much more.

Now, think about purchasing a new computer. Can you go back to the store repeatedly to ask how to operate that computer? Can you continually call tech-support and get immediate assistance for free? Can you go back to the same people when you forget what they explained the first time? I would have to guess that most often, the answer is no.

But at the library, we will help you as many times as you need, for whatever your problems might include. And if we can’t figure something out, we’ll try to find someone who knows, or find the information online to help you with your issue.

Even if you’re very skilled in using your device, sometimes people just need a little assistance to work a new app, or print something wirelessly. We do that. And we do it for free every single time, usually without much of a wait time.

Where else can you get service like that?

Libraries will continue to be sources of personal assistance in navigating the world wide web, which is essentially just one large depot for information. Exactly what we’ve always done, just in a new way. And until there is a free community access facility to help people with technology and information on how to use it, the library will be absolutely necessary. Always…now, just with an ‘on’ button.

Happy Ontario Public Library Week!

#OPLW

 

 

Join us for some Library Fun!

Next week is Ontario Public Library Week! Once again, we’re doing some low-key celebrations at the library, but you’ll certainly have some fun if you drop by. From library trivia, to a crazy iSpy, to some silly fun for the kids, we’ll have lots going on.

You can also drop by our Facebook page for daily activities, public interest stories and more! Ontario Public Libraries—a visit gets you thinking! #OPLW

New and Improved!

As bookstores are having to constantly change their formats to keep up with the changing needs of customers, libraries have to do the same. Long gone are the dusty card catalogs, replaced by shiny new tablets with searchable catalogs.

And what about cramped, outdated computers to do your work or log onto social media? Sleek desks with tiny computer footprints make it easier for patrons to get their work–or surfing–done. That even includes a height-adjustable desk for patrons who might be in a wheelchair.

And for older patrons, the task of looking for large print books can be unappealing. But large print covers are now bright and fun, and facing them out bookstore style, should help make selections easier. Maybe patrons will even find some new favourite authors!

If you’re seeing changes at our library, while they might cause a bit of confusion, they’re also exciting and forward-thinking. Take a few minutes to see what’s new at our library!