by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
What’s new at the library? You might have noticed when you walk in the door that things look a bit different in the computer area. We have new computers, something you’ll see throughout Pioneerland Library System.
The reason things look different in our library is because we have fewer desktop computers than we did before. Our computers at Litchfield don’t get the heavy use they did in years past because so many people bring in their own laptops, tablets, and phones to use with our wifi instead, so we purchased only as many as we need now. We kept track of the number that were being used simultaneously, counting people on different days and at different times to make the decision. Instead of twelve computers you could sign up for on the adult side, we now have nine, and we have three on the children’s side instead of four. We also added two laptops, bringing that total to four. When you add all of those together plus the iPad we also have available to check out, we have seventeen devices you can sign up to use instead of the sixteen we used to have. So it’s actually an increase!
In place of two desktop computers that were dedicated for library catalog use, we now have a tablet for that purpose, mounted on a column behind the computers. It’s similar to what Target has for gift registries now.
So although it looks like a huge drop in the number of computers, it’s really not. It’s mostly set up differently, with a wider variety of types of computers in use.
When I started working at the library seven years ago, which is around the time when we got our previous desktops, the computers were often full, and every day we had to ask people to give the next person a turn after their half-hour allotment of time was over. Even with fewer computers now, it’s unusual for every computer to be full or for us to have to tell people their time is up. It seems this number of computers is meeting our community’s needs.
I know that people often don’t like to sit next to a stranger while they use a computer. We hear that from customers pretty often. If you feel that way, I would encourage you to check out a laptop or iPad and find a private place to sit with it. There are desks, tables, and comfortable chairs throughout the library, plus two study rooms. You need to have your library card with you to check out one of these devices, and it can’t be blocked by having over five dollars in fines. The laptops and iPad have to stay in the library; you can’t check them out to take home.
The library laptops can do something I think is pretty amazing: they print to our regular printer just like the other computers. So if you need to print, using a library laptop is no barrier.
What happens to the old computers? We’re selling them. If you would like to buy an HP DC7900 desktop PC with a 160GB hard drive, a 19-inch widescreen monitor, and discs you can use to install Windows software, talk to someone at the library’s front desk and we can give you the details. Pioneerland’s IT department has wiped the hard drives, so they’re equivalent to refurbished computers.
If you need to use a computer, an iPad, a printer, a scanner, or a microfilm reader, we have all of those kinds of equipment to meet your needs at the library. I hope to see more people using the laptops in the months to come, making use of different places to sit in the library while they do their banking, their emailing, and their Facebooking. When you don’t have high-speed internet at home, the library is here to give you access to the world of online information.