Connect to the Online World: Part 2

Connect to the Online World: Part 2

Posted on Monday March 28, 2011 at 02:49PM

Connect to the Online World: Part 2
Yesterday I heard a radio commentator sounding off on the fact that in Canada the large internet service providers, like Bell and Rogers, are allowed to meter internet usage and charge for overages (also referred to as Usage Based Billing). While this decision by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) has come under public and political assault, and is currently under review to reverse the decision, it is already in practice by some internet service providers and may lead to higher usage of public library computers.


What does this mean for you? Be prepared! If more people are coming in to use the public computers, you may need to beef up your computer use policy or set up session time limits. Home computers can vary slightly from the library computers, so be prepared to answer some questions. Keep statistics. This will help for Annual Reports next year, but will also document changes in use, in case you need to argue for more funds, space and/or computers to keep up with increasing demand.


Having a couple of up-to-date items in your 004 section (data processing and computer science) would be helpful as well. These tend to go out of date very quickly, so buying a large number at a time is perhaps not the best way to spend your money. I searched ULS for “internet” which yielded two titles, both from 2008, which means they are already outdated. A search for newer materials via Amazon resulted in thousands of hits, some of which may work in your library. One, Tracing your Family History on the Internet by Chris Paton (2011), combines internet use with genealogy and is UK focused; which would be good for those who have roots in the UK, but pretty useless for anyone else. Another option, The Internet is a Playground by David Throne (2011), is classified as humour. I’m not sure how well your humor section circulates, but putting this in the 004 would probably not get it to its intended audience for shelf-browsers. An advanced search in Amazon, which limited results to anything published within the last year and a half, still netted over 1000 hits. From there, you’d have to be aware of your users’ needs in order to narrow down which resources would be most helpful: Facebook? web design? Google?


In terms of programming, incorporating the internet into current programs would be a great way to Connect to the Online World while not making it the priority. For example, if your focus is Visiting a Comfortable Space for seniors, a training session on making them comfortable using the library’s computers would be a great way of combining the two service responses. Satisfying Curiosity could lead to a session on exploring various websites on any particular topic. Even storytime, Create Young Readers, can make use of Youtube storytime videos, which could make both parents and kids more aware of what’s available online. Check out my favorite, 5 Little Monkeys, by Medicine Hat Public Library (www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHo-16mtvd0).


Although I’m still not sold on making Connect to the Online World a priority in a library’s plan of service, it is still something that needs to be supported in collections, programs, space provision, staff knowledge and policies. With rising costs for home use, we may see more people flocking to the library to access things like digital archives and films. Not only should we be prepared to meet this need, but also encourage it by promoting free internet usage at the library.

Author: Northern Lights Library System

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