Monday, August 25, 2008

VPT Show Librarian Comments

The VPT show garnered quite a few comments about the role of libraries in a connected age, many from librarians. I have re-published them here. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts!

written by Marti Fiske, Director-Dorothy Alling Memorial Library, August 19, 2008
The internet is a boon, for those who can afford it. That's where public libraries are helping. Public libraries across the state offer free access to computers for internet access and document writing. Last year the public computers in Williston's library were used almost 10,000 times. That is in Williston alone! Librarians are also training people how to use the internet and computer programs. Increasing e-access in Vermont doesn't only help those who can afford it in their homes. It also provides access through public libraries. It's time for the small rural Vermont libraries to have faster, more reliable connections to help their residents break the barrier to internet and computer access too.

written by Martha A. Penzer, August 20, 2008
As a librarian, as Marti Fiske, I observe the role of public libraries in extending e-technology to one and all. This is sharing resources at its best.

If we are serious about democracy in this high-tech age and including everyone in the conversation regardless of his/her capacity to own a P.C., this requires greater support to libraries and librarians.

written by Penny Pillsbury, August 20, 2008
Written by Penelope(Penny) Pillsbury-yet another Librarian.
I feel we need to get all the libraries, but especially public libraries' resources linked together with a single ONLINE catalog,so all Vermonters can find out where the resources are. A blessing to all is the we now have a real live Martha Reid a Public Librarian as State Librarian. Support and communicate with Martha Reid, State Librarian. As it stands now, each library has to pay for software to create a database, wouldn't it be a great deal more cost effective to have one system for the entire state. It exists in West Virginia, another mountainous state. It would level the playing field for rich and poor.

written by Paula J. Baker, August 20, 2008
Libraries USED to be private, the domain of the wealthy. With the rise of public libraries in the last century, the community has enlarged and to the benefit of all. I can't say it strongly enough: Librarians daily assist the elderly who wish to connect with their grandchildren across the continent, aid workers looking for jobs in a tighter economy (often without keyboard skills), work with students whose home internet connections are either nonexistent or very, very slow, and the list of needs goes on. Many of us also offer full-text databases 24/7 through our websites, a valuable tool for a rural environment. Libraries are or should be key players in all discussions regarding community and access. What state agency is open nights and weekends? Cost effectiveness dictates many of those restrictive hours, but libraries do it locally anyway. We should be thinking about connectivity and access not only for residents but between agencies which ultimately serves all Vermont citizens and visitors.

written by Karyn Vogel, August 20, 2008
I am so glad librarians are participating in this discussion. I agree with Paula - librarians should be key players in discussions about technology, equity and access. One of the biggest concerns about our increasing dependence on and use of technology is the fact that some have access to it and some don't. Lack of access can take different forms: some can't afford the hardware, some can't afford to pay for connectivity, some don't have broadband options, some just don't have the computer skills they need. Or a disability may prevent them from easily using a computer. Libraries are doing such important work to help people use technology. I'm interested in what librarians are saying about how we can support their work and make them a part of our becoming a successful e-state. It would be good to hear from library patrons as well, especially those who rely on the library for technology access and education.

written by Anne Lezak, August 21, 2008
These comments by librarians point out the vital role that libraries play in extending Internet access to those who would otherwise be left behind. And they underscore the need for state support to enable libraries to continue to play this key connecting role in our rural state.

Our library board (I am a trustee) is very much aware of the importance of computers and technology to our users. Our computers are in use all the time, every day, usually with people waiting to use them. We know that this is the only place many folks can go to get online, do the research they need, connect with others, and have at least a short time to take advantage of the technology that those of who can afford it consider a necessity.

Vermont is one of only 9 states where libraries receive no state support. Providing some state funding to enable libraries to maintain and expand their ability to provide access to technology for all must be a priority if we are to truly become an e-state.

written by Stephanie Chase, August 21, 2008
Yet another Librarian comment! Here in Stowe, we too see such a wide variety of folks coming in to the Library to use our computers: visitors to our state, local folks popping in, residents without high-speed access or computers at home to access the Internet or our online resources. Our public access computers were used nearly 15,000 times last year!

Providing high-speed access across the state not only allows our residents, whether at home or through their schools or public libraries, access to the resources of the greater world; to compete in the work environment by staying current with technology; to acquire new skills; and to keep up with "what's happening," whether in popular culture, news, or even the Olympics! It also allows us to move towards a "greener" life, where resources are not replicated from organization to organization, and where we can obtain reliable information without paper. As Penny mentioned, it also allows us to collaborate on projects to provide equity to all our residents -- whether through a single online library catalog to find books and other materials, or through resource sharing as we have with the Vermont Online Library ( collection of databases or the downloadable audiobooks available through Listen Up! Vermont (

written by Zelda43, August 21, 2008
Libraries are struggling to meet the demand for public internet access and are doing a pretty good job when it comes to providing such within the physical library building. But...libraries are also beginning to embrace technological methods to delivery library resources. Accessing the Vermont Online Library is a tedious and frustrating task for those who do not have high-speed Internet. If we are moving toward making audiobooks, DVDs, etc. available only through downloads we will effectively prevent many from enjoying them. Internet access is critical, but it is high-speed Internet that's needed. Pretending that access is provided through a phone-modem is out of touch with reality.

written by Martha Reid, Vermont State Librarian, August 21, 2008
We cannot talk about economic development in this state without including the need for high speed internet access. Vermonters in every demographic group need access -- students, job seekers, businesses, retirees, youth, parents, teachers, local and state government, etc. Expanding broadband capacity throughout the state is key, but access for all Vermonters is also essential. Any discussion about "building community in a connected age" must also include recognition that there is a "digital divide" between those who can afford computers in their homes and businesses and who are well trained in using them and those who do not own computers or do not know how to use them. Vermont's system of public libraries offers free access to computers and internet access. Librarians are trained and available to help people use those computers; many of Vermont's libraries offer one-on-one assistance in using computers, as well as free computer classes. Of the 175 Vermont public libraries that submitted statistical reports to the Vermont Department of Libraries for 2006-07, 93% reported that they offer free high speed intenet access for the public. For the same period Vermont ranked #2 in the nation for the number of public access computers in libraries per 5,000 population. But Vermont libraries cannot sustain this level of access and service without financial support: for hardware and software upgrades, additional computer workstations, staff costs (including training for staff), connectivity charges, database subscription costs, etc. Vermont is lucky to have such a fine system of libraries already in place to support Vermont in becoming a true e-state. To make this library network viable for the long term, however, we need to make sure that our libraries have adequate financial support. [To see the complete statistical report about Vermont's public libraries, go to: ]]

written by Meris Morrison, Librarian Moore Free Library,Newfane, VT, August 22, 2008
We even have internet users when our Newfane library is closed. If they have a laptop they can access our high speed access anytime from their cars or sitting on the porch. This is true of other libraries as well. What a boon to our rural communities!

No comments: