Moving Our Library into the Technology Age
Technology is growing and we need to grow with it. Every household, young child, teen and adult uses technology on a daily basis, whether in their own home or at a public facility, like our library.
The Beginning of a New Journey
Being a small library we struggled with getting technology to our patrons. It just wasn’t in our budget to support that kind of expense. Up until about two years ago, we only had three access computers for all of our patrons to use. We had to find another way, a way to get technology in the hands of our patrons, especially our students.
We were very fortunate to have access and the ability to apply for a grant from the Illinois State Library for that very resource.
With acceptance of the grant we were able to order Laptops and IPads for students to use in-house, which was a success for our programming, such as our Girls Who Code Club and Science Club. Our technology incorporated programs were going off without a hitch.
Everything changed when the pandemic hit and we had to close our doors for months, no interaction with the students or other patrons, no programming, nothing. Our librarians sat at home wondering when things were going to go back to normal, when we could open our doors and continue the programs we sought for the library and its patrons.
The Not So Normal
Well, normal never came. We were allowed to go back to work, but with no interaction or patrons in the building, no programs, and no groups to grow a love of technology with all its uses and functionality. We were forced to endure curbside only. Waving at our patrons through their windows while we put their items in their trunks.
Everyone was looking for things to do with their kids now that they were stuck at home doing e-learning, and adults were tired of being holed up inside, but we weren’t allowed to offer anything during that difficult time. Frustration and confusion set in. With so many uncertainties, it was difficult to know how to proceed.
A New Day
With Summer Reading fast approaching we finally got permission to order materials and do online programming. So the next few weeks were spent planning and learning how to implement our current and new programs in an online setting. Using materials, we already had and purchasing some new, we were ready to start our programming. A lot of them were take and makes, with instructions. Some more advanced take and makes had a link to a live or recorded video of a walkthrough of the projects. Others were video lead, like out Science Club, which will start next week through Zoho Meeting. Our other programs, such as CS First, Girls Who Code and our STEAM Kits will all be through a Zoho Meeting so students can have virtual instructions with a librarian live for more hands – on, critical thinking, question and answer type of programming. We are also in the process of doing a virtual library and makerspace and we will be having our first in-person interactive movie night outside this summer.
We all know things aren’t going to go back to what used to be our normal, but we can learn to adapt and make changes where we need to, to accommodate our patrons needs and still provide information, programming and materials. The future may be changing, but we can always change with it.
Kathy Dejnowski, ALSC Children and Technology committee member, has been the Youth and YA Librarian at the Thornton Public Library in Illinois for the past ten years. She loves doing crafts and having conversations with her children, and loves getting together with her five sisters. She is currently working on a blog with her identical twin.