Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reflections and what I learned....

Now that my work here is almost done, it's time for some reflection on what I've learned about technology and how it is used at the Windham Public Library.  As a result of this assignment, I've learned that there are varying degrees of technology use in libraries and WPL in particular.  Barbara and her staff were kind enough to allow me to see the behind-the-scenes workings at the library and how they balance the print and online usage.  It has been a wonderful experience on so many levels:  I loved visiting with Barbara again; I loved blogging, even though I never thought I'd do it; and I loved learning what the Windham Public Library uses for technology, how much they spend on updates and upgrades, and how Barbara and the staff manage the different technological devices available there.  Even though they are on a limited budget, as most libraries are these days, they continue to look for new ways to implement the latest technology in order to best serve their patrons.  By purchasing eight new personal computers, continuously updating patrons on e-book readers and other devices, and keeping their website current, the Windham Public Library is doing a fantastic job with keeping up with technology and looking to the future for what's to come.

Of all the things I learned during my interview with Barbara, I have a few favorites.  The first is the program they provide to the various nursing homes in the area; the staff brings in and picks up books to the folks there so they still have access to the library even though they aren't able to visit anymore.  This is a wonderful service that addresses the needs of our community.  The second was how the Windham Public Library balances the use of technology with print materials.  I appreciate that they embrace the new changes in technology, while still maintaining the "old-school" methods of print access.  This is vital in today's society.  Without this open-mindedness, many libraries and librarians would find themselves not being able to meet the needs of their patrons, and therefore become obsolete in a short period of time.  The third and final favorite thing that I learned was Barbara's perspective on filtering, parent responsibility, and open access to information.  I feel this tied much of my class instruction together into a cohesive, real world application.  She views internet access in her library the same way I would if I worked in a public library:  that parents are the ones responsible for their children's appropriate internet use, not the librarians.  I like that they installed the lowest possible filter on their computers so that patrons can still access certain sites, such as those relating to breast cancer, while still being able to receive E-rate funding from the government.  (It's always important to keep the library's budget in mind.)  Filtering of websites has a few problems, such as restricting useful and instructional sites, failing to restrict ones that are offensive and inappropriate, and I hope that in the near future there will be more effective programs created.  Until this happens, I think Barbara and her staff are doing the best they can to provide open access to information while still complying with federal laws.  

In summary, I'd like to extend a hearty thank you to Barbara Keef and the staff at the Windham Public Library.  I hugely appreciate your openness and generosity of time and information to me during this interview/blog process.  I wouldn't have been able to do it without you!  Thanks again and I'll see you soon!


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