In the Library world we talk a great deal about the importance of providing access to technology in our communities. According to the recently released Public Library Funding & Technology Access study conducted by the American Library Association, 83% of Iowa libraries offer the only free access to computer/Internet in their communities. The national average is 67%. More than just offering computers and Internet access, Iowa libraries offer licensed databases, homework help, virtual reference, ebooks and downloadable audio books.
In addition to offering access to these technologies, 81% of Iowa libraries offer training programs on various computer programs. The Cedar Rapids Public Library regularly offers classes for the beginning computer user to using social media and online job applications.
Another important resource for the community is the ability to assist with e-government. This becomes more and more important as our government moves more of its functions online. In Iowa, more than 85% of libraries assist with e-government. We see this regularly in our technology center.
While access to this assistance and this type of technology is an important part of the Library’s mission and what we do, our goal for the future is to offer technology for everyone, not only those who don’t have access. This means if you have an ereader at home, what can we do to make using it with Library ebooks as simple as possible? Or perhaps you own an iPad. What do we have in our Library that will make you want to bring that iPad into the building instead of only visiting us virtually? What kind of technology are people who already have technology looking for in the new library? How can we impact those who already have access but are looking for something more?
We have begun this conversation internally while preparing for our new library building. We would love to hear what you would like to see included. Leave us your ideas here. After all, this is your library.