Thursday, June 4, 2015

Exeter Public Library Tech Lounge

The Exeter Public Library has just about finished their new tech lounge. It features several special chairs that are wired with USB and electrical plug-ins.

“We just decided it was time for some updates.  We wanted to make a central location where people could utilize our technology and resources,” explained Librarian Jessica Votipka.

The tech lounge was on hold waiting to have new electrical service run to the floor so that the chairs could be wired in to be able to have power to them. “With the powered chairs I envision people sitting with the e-readers and when they are running low, they can just reach over and plug in to continue reading.”

Funds for the chairs were provided by the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation.  The fund provides support to public libraries located in Nebraska communities with populations under  3,000.

The whole goal of creating the area, according to Votipka, was for it to be welcoming. “We wanted a nice central location for people to utilize our technology resources.” 

While the existing internet computer has been moved to the tech lounge area, the restrictions on its use remain the same.  Patrons can not check email on the computer, nor can they use it for social media.  It is primarily to be used for research.

Still coming in the lounge area is a poster of a giant library card which will be hung from the ceiling and several other pieces of library related artwork.

Another new feature of the tech lounge is an Advanced Workstation in Education (AWE) computer.
Votipka had seen the AWE literacy station computer in an library journal article and was immediately attracted to it, “It is all about kids’ learning games.  It has a section for reading, math, science and even art where you can design with your fingers because it is a touch screen.”

According to the AWE website, “The goal of this project is to provide a safe and fun learning environment for young children who may or may not have access to a computer at home.”

The AWE computer is not hooked to the internet in any way which is another reassurance for parents.  “It doesn’t plug into the internet so you don’t have to worry about kids getting into bad stuff. We can update the computer, if needed via a flash drive,” explained Votipka.

The computer includes a child sized mouse, a color-coded keyboard and a touch screen to make it more accessible to children. The library will include data collected on the learning computer in their stats for the year and hope to see an increase in computer use.

The library applied for a grant from Wal-Mart and the York Wal-Mart donated $1000 to the project with the remainder of the cost donated from the last of the Exeter Recycling funds.

Currently the Exeter Public Library has around 280 regular borrowers with approximately 2900 annual visits per year.

Votipka still has a wish list for the tech lounge which includes public wi-fi, but is working on internet service issues.  Other updates in the plans include the purchase of a new librarian’s desk and a plan to landscape the park which has been put on hold because of the possibility of the removal of the building next door.

Votipka had a drop in guest recently who was a librarian from Washington D.C., he had never seen chairs like this was very impressed with the lounge.  “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the grants.”

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