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Computer Class

If you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your homework. That’s the dilemma many kids are running into in Miami, Florida – and across the country these days. It’s a big reason the South Dade Library computer laboratory has been crowded to capacity on most school nights.

Christina Morua is a mother of two young children who do not have the luxury of the internet in their home. Many of her shouldering assignments must be performed online and that means in some cases waiting over an hour to use one of the library’s computers. Parents can no longer count on homework being done at home which makes libraries even more important for communities.

The South Dade Library is having problems of its own with poor funding, reduced hours, and dated equipment. Patricia Readon, a librarian at South Dade branch in Cutler Bay, said the laptops offered to patrons are not ideal. After 30 minutes of use, the batteries no longer work, making it quite difficult for kids to do their homework.

There has been a debate for years on how to best invest in the Miami-Dade libraries. Many are looking at ways to attract those that currently have no interest in libraries. Discussions revolve around creating workspace for entrepreneurs, adding popular coffee shops to each branch, and adding 3D printers.

For parents that lack internet access at home, it isn’t much of a debate. They want libraries to invest in more computers for its labs. The library system has an additional $4 million it is able to spend this year because of an increase to a special property tax that helps fund the library system.

Even with the increased budget, the system remains strapped for cash because of labor costs, longer hours, and bigger budgets for educational products. The library system said it doesn’t have the money to put into more computer labs.

Gia Arbogast, interim library director said there should be enough room in the budget to purchase new tablets in place of the old laptop computers. Arbogast added the system is trying to keep up with the current demand and this should help many families.

Sylvia Diaz, Assistant School Superintendent for Innovation of the Miami-Dade school system, said teachers are discouraged from assigning daily online homework if all students don’t have internet access in the class.

There is no denying the position of Miami-Dade County schools when it comes to technology; all high school freshmen have been given tablets so they can start utilizing digital textbooks. Local elementary schools allow children to play a game called Reflex Math 24 hours a day. Reflex Math is an online learning program that resembles a video game.

Zach Leverenz, CEO of EveryoneOn, which provides subsidized online access for students, praised schools systems for moving to e-learning. He warned it must be at a pace that doesn’t put low-income families at a disadvantage. He said it shouldn’t be assumed that everyone has access to the internet or can make it to the library.

A library branch manager, Michele Stiles, said the system is working hard on providing more computers to each branch. In the meantime, if a student can’t complete his or her homework at the library because of long wait times, librarians are handing out excuse slips that can be given to teachers.

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Laptop

Across the United States, libraries have had to become more than just a place to check out books. It’s no different for the Licking County Library in Newark, Ohio. Patrons are now coming to the library to go online and view information on the internet, watch movies, and even participate in a yoga session.

Director of the Licking County Library, Babette Wofter said it is the job of the library to be a source of information. It has always been the go-to source, but the way information is provided today is very different than what many are accustomed to. The library is becoming more of an experience than what it was in the past.

Wofter has been director since 2010 and it has been her goal to bring programs to the library that will get people talking. She has never been the kind of person not to take a chance. She says if you’re not taking a chance you’re not trying hard enough. Under her direction, kids are able to hear stories from veterans, while local greenthumbs give tips and seeds to those interested in gardening. There is even space for teens to play games and participate in a Battle of the Bands contest.

Barbary Sanderson, a teen services assistant at the library, has had to get creative to get kids and teenagers excited to come to the library and participate in its programs. One such idea was to start a Green Teens program. This was after Sanderson noticed that going green and upcycling was popular amongst teens. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. The library hosted a “Trashion Fashion Show” where teens used recyclables to create fashionable clothing. It was a success with over 40 teens participating to create 13 outfits. The cost of the program was a mere $5 which went to purchasing tin foil. Everything else had been donated by the Licking County Recycling Center.

Wofter and Sanderson believe the programs are doing very well, with most usually filled to capacity. While most libraries are seeing a sharp decline in circulation, the Licking County Library’s circulation continues to increase. Wofter said it’s a sign that the community enjoys what the library has to offer.

A “Friends of the Licking County Library” group was recently established for the Licking County Library in an attempt to raise money for its multiple branches and popular bookmobile. The bookmobile is essentially a library on a school bus that offers books, magazines, and DVDs.

President of the Friends of the Licking County Library, Marilyn Donahue said she can’t wait to see the value the group will bring to the library. Donahue, a patron of the library for over 20 years said is excited to be a member of the group and that it is something that’s long overdue.

The service group will support the library through fundraisers and events throughout the year. In the near future, it will begin to solicit membership support.

Wofter believes the support of the group will be very beneficial to the library in the coming years. She urges locals to stop by the library if they haven’t been there in a while. She said the library is very different than it was just a few months ago. Many would not recognize it with all of the activities going on.

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Robots are coming to a library near you

October 6, 2014
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Libraries are becoming more and more high tech with ebooks, tablets, and virtual visits. But one feature at the Wesport Library in Connecticut is straight out of science fiction. The library will introduce a pair of toddler-sized robots named Vincent and Nancy. With flashing lights for eyes, an ability to sing, dance, and speak 19 different languages, the newest additions are expected to create a lot of excitement. Library officials […]

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How much space should libraries dedicate to physical books?

September 29, 2014
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When Bob Jewett goes to the Georgetown library, he usually picks up a handful of books, a few magazines, and his daily newspaper. The one thing you won’t see him picking up is an ebook or, more correctly, an ebook reader. At 78-years-old Jewett prefers large print paperbacks, not computer, tablet, or phone screens. Delaware libraries are quickly changing, however, with full computer labs, ebooks, and digital classes, it’s actually […]

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New York City libraries want 10 year funding plan

September 22, 2014
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Whenever it rains in New York City, workers at the Sheepshead Bay library rush to move computers and valuables into another room to avoid a leaky roof. The leaks have been so bad in the past, in fact, that patrons have had to walk through knee deep puddles of rain. Library branch manager Svetlana Negrimovskaya said the city’s libraries are in maintenance crisis mode. It comes at an inopportune time […]

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Texas library creates amnesty program for late fees

September 15, 2014
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The Houston Public Library is in a forgiving mood. Patrons that have a balance on their accounts due to a lost or misplaced item such as a book or DVD can have their fines erased from the system under an amnesty program the library is currently offering. The program is only available to those that sign up for the “My Link” library card by Sept. 26 and have less than $25 […]

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Floating library makes a stop in New York City

September 9, 2014
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More and more libraries are becoming creative and pulling out all of the stops to try and bring new patrons through their doors. Many libraries are starting to offer ebooks, while others are completely digital and don’t offer traditional paper books at all. New York City is offering something a little different for a month when the Floating Library comes to the Hudson River from September 6 through October 3. […]

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Florida Polytechnic University features a bookless library

August 29, 2014
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The newest public university in Florida is trying something a little different with its 11,000 square-foot structure – going totally green. Florida Polytechnic University, located in Lakeland is taking a bold step by offering a digital catalog of 135,000 ebooks. Paper books will not be offered at the fully digital library. FPU, which is not yet an accredited school, has an enrollment of 550 students in its inaugural class. Students […]

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Taneyhills Community Library joins consortium so they can offer ebooks

August 25, 2014
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The Taneyhills Community Library in Branson, Missouri now officially offering ebooks. Kent Olson, Board President of the Taneyhills Community Library said the service became available to its patrons a week ago. Olson said charging for library cards and other services at the library has helped make it possible to loan out ebooks. Without these small fees, he surmises, it would not have been possible to install an ebook system at […]

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Seattle Public Library encourages authors to write ebooks

August 8, 2014
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Seattle Public Library is hoping to pique the interest of area writers with an opportunity to show off their talents in the form of an ebook. The library has partnered with Smashwords, an independent publisher and distributor of ebooks, to offer a self-publishing platform for aspiring and established Seattle, Washington writers. The pair have also teamed up to offer a self-publishing contest, in which up to three individuals will have […]

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