Library is coming through on its promises

Jeffco library offering updated technology, more books and expanded hours

Posted 6/21/16

There’s a trend going on these days — access to technology is becoming more important to the modern lifestyle.

And the Jefferson County Public Library has been busy updating its technology for the benefit of patrons and staff.

“We’re …

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Library is coming through on its promises

Jeffco library offering updated technology, more books and expanded hours

Posted

There’s a trend going on these days — access to technology is becoming more important to the modern lifestyle.

And the Jefferson County Public Library has been busy updating its technology for the benefit of patrons and staff.

“We’re getting in sync with the rest of the world,” said Pam Nissler, executive director of the public libraries. “We have a community that wants and deserves this technology.”

Since Jan. 1, Jeffco libraries have updated 150 computers — 90 of them are for patron use, and the rest are for staff.

The biggest thing with the updates, said IT Director Pat Klein, is faster processors. However, updates also include enhancing security and efficiency of networks by upgrading servers, switches and firewalls. And 12 outdated early literacy station computers were replaced.

In general, updates on computers occur about every three years, Klein said. But the library is “playing catch up” because of financial constraints, and some of the computers hadn’t been updated in about six years, he added.

Other improvements in technology the library has done is being able to offer “more robust and interesting databases” and new resources, Nissler said. New online resources include the New York Times Online; TumbleBooks, which is an online collection of animated talking picture books for children; and Mango Languages, a language-learning system that offers self-paced online instruction for 12 languages. Still to come within the next few weeks, Nissler added, is lynda.com, which is a self-paced learning tutorial with courses in software, creative and business skills; and Consumer Reports Online.

“We’re all about giving people equal access to information and opportunity,” Nissler said. “These days, that means giving people access to the tools and technology they need to participate fully in the global digital community.”

Technology is one of four areas the library system promised to improve for the community with the passing of the mill levy initiative approved by voters in November.

The four promises, Nissler said, are technology updates, restore hours, increase books and materials and catch up on maintenance and refurbishing projects.

Because it passed, the mill levy increased to 4.121 mills, up from 3.425 mills in 2015, meaning an $8 million increase — total revenues of $34,453,776 — for the library. In January, the library’s 2016 budget was approved by the Library Board of Trustees and the Jefferson County Commissioners, allotting total expenditures of $32,396,129 for the four promises.

The library is seeing some happy people, Nissler said.

“People (have) noticed that their vote for the library mattered,” she said. “It’s exactly what we hoped would happen.”

In the first week of April, library hours increased from 51 to 65 hours that the larger libraries are open, and as of June 1, $2.8 million was spent on new books and materials.

Security systems are being upgraded, additional Wi-Fi hotspots are being added, Wheat Ridge will be getting new windows, the parking lot at Lakewood will be redone, Golden is receiving sewer repair and all the libraries are getting some landscaping improvements. All of these things, Nissler said, are not as exciting as new stuff, but they are necessary improvements that protect the taxpayer’s investment in the library.

Both in-person and website visits by patrons are up, Nissler said, including an 8 percent increase in program attendance and a 14 percent increase in circulation — books and materials that people are borrowing from the library.

Libraries have always been about getting information out to people, said Angie Grischkowsky, teen services librarian at the Golden Library. But information these days, she added, “doesn’t just come from books anymore.”

The Golden Library is piloting a makerspace/playscape program that the library is calling DIY (Do it Yourself) Lab.

“More people are wanting to come to libraries to create and do and work with other people,” said Debbie Ridgell, Golden Library supervisor.

The DIY Lab is offered for people of all ages, she said, with the different programs available divided by age groups. The labs offer all sorts of things for people to explore — rotary tools by Dremel, mini robots, sewing machines, electronics experimentation kits, digital media and a drone, among other things.

It’s important for children to be able to apply STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — concepts to keep up in the world, said Lalitha Chittoor, a library patron of Arvada who was attending the Thursday night DIY Lab in Golden with her 5-year-old daughter Madhvi.

The DIY Lab, she said, “provides exposure to kids to learn about recent technology … It gives them additional knowledge to help them compete in the real world.”

“It’s more hands-on than the school can provide,” said Sharon Binkley of Golden.

The trend in learning is being able to do so in spaces that offer interactive and collaborative activities for all ages, said Leah Capezio, patron experience associate at the Golden Library.

“A place to tinker, have fun and experiment,” she added.

Jeffco libraries,

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