3 Local Libraries Leading Change
In March 2015, the Government Accountability Office, GAO, criticized the Library of Congress for its “significant weaknesses across several areas” of technological infrastructure, according to a GAO report. While this national library may be experiencing struggles to innovate, three libraries are leading the charge and embracing new ideas.
New York Public Library Helps Households Connect to the Internet
In December 2014, the Office of the New York Comptroller issued a report revealing that 27 percent of New York City households do not have broadband Internet access. The New York Public Library’s Library HotSpot program helps these households by offering free Wi-Fi modems which access unlimited 4G Internet in 4G-enabled areas. In all other city locations, the service reverts to a 3G connection.
The modems allow users to receive free Internet services for up to one year. After one year, library patrons can renew the service. The initiative aims to offer Internet access to 10,000 low-income families across the city, according to The Huffington Post’s James Thilman.
Mobile Beacon, which partnered with Sprint for the initiative, states the New York City Library HotSpot program is the largest Internet lending program of its kind in the United States.
Ashtabula County ICAN Libraries Inspire Young Readers
Image via Flickr by San José Library
According to the Kids & Family Reading Report issued by Scholastic in January 2015, only 51 percent of children like or love reading for fun. That figure is nearly 10 percent less than the children who reported enjoying reading in 2010. The significant drop in engagement should trouble anyone studying for a Master of Management in Library and Information Science degree, since inspiring the next generation of readers is essential for the long-term success of libraries.
What are libraries doing to combat this issue with engagement? The Ashtabula County ICAN Libraries of Ohio have launched an innovative program to boost reading engagement with their younger patrons.
The Star Beacon details a 100 Book Challenge issued by the library system that encourages patrons ages eight and older to read 100 books in 2016. Participating libraries will distribute reading logs to help children keep track of their reading efforts. All successful readers will receive a 100 Book Challenge T-shirt or tote bag and an invitation to a reception recognizing their achievements.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Introduces New Technologies to Youth
Young people can interact with exciting new developments like 3D printers and computer-aided design stations at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Idea Box, which opened in February 2015. The North Carolina library’s innovative maker space is freely accessible for young people keen on furthering their interests in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
“We envision the space as a vibrant, collaborative, and creatively messy environment,” explains David Singleton, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s director. “Idea Box will be a place where anyone can explore new technology as well as design, prototype, and build inspired ideas from start to finish.”
The library also runs free workshops explaining how to use Idea Box’s facilities.
Idea Box is Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s second maker space. The first, Studio i at ImaginOn, opened in 2005 to help local youth access tools for animation, music creation, sound recording, and game design.
Thanks to innovative local libraries like the ones profiled here, libraries can continue to evolve and grow to appeal to younger generations of learners.
For more information please visit librarysciencedegree.usc.edu.
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