Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 23, 2014

The digital library

Boyd County Public Library offers high-tech services, help in keeping up

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Cheryl Fennimore of Ashland is on her second Kindle, but she said she still benefited from attending a technology workshop at the Boyd County Public Library.

The workshop was aimed at helping people use the library’s high-tech services with their device.

“It was a group session, but it was bad weather that day so I was the only one there and I got one-on-one instruction,” the 55-year-old said.

“I’m a widow and I have a lot of free time in the evening and I thought the workshop would be a good way to get some education and make new friends,” Fennimore, on optician at Ironton Vision Center, said, noting although she wasn’t new to using a Kindle, she learned several new things at the workshop.

“I had never gone on the library’s site or downloaded books from their site,” she said. “The instructor did a very good job – informational and patient.”

Standard offerings

It’s not unusual for the Boyd County Public Library to help local residents with technology.

Jamie Bayne, information services supervisor, said director Debbie Cosper has always looked to technology as a way for the library to stay relevant.

“Debbie has always been very forward thinking,” Bayne said. “We started having computers available for public use quite early on, thanks to other progressive thinkers and board members. When I started in 2008, one of my earliest objectives was to update and enhance our website to make it more engaged and user-friendly. 

“Since then, we have moved from a static website to an online branch where patrons can access many services remotely (databases, eBooks, eMagazines, music, videos and more).”

New trends

More recently, the library has followed emerging trends in technology, Bayne said.

“We were early adapters of lending iPods preloaded with audiobooks and Nooks loaded with eBooks.  We have evolved to lending Playaway Views (self-contained video players preloaded with movies and television shows for children) and Playaways (self contained MP3 audiobook players).”

She said the library has plans to include more tablet technology.

“Apps and mobility are the next wave of the future and we are riding it,” she said.

The library recently launched a mobile app that consolidates the library’s services.

“You can instantly tap into library resources from any mobile phone or tablet connected to the Internet, any time, any where,” Amanda Gilmore, community relations coordinator, said.

“Everyone lives on their mobile phones these days, so it’s important for the library to be easily accessible whenever and wherever people need access to our staff and rich resources,” Cosper said. “Our new mobile app puts library information just one click away with much faster access than going through a browser.”

Library app

The BCPL Mobile app is available for download free from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon, Windows 8 Desktop and Windows 8 Phone. It was developed by Boopsie Inc., which has helped more than 250 libraries and universities create apps.

The library is planning a launch party for the app sometime this month.

The library also offers one-on-one session to help patrons use their devices, which Bayne said she believes patrons prefer.

“(Individual sessions) are very focused to that person’s needs and abilities,” she said. “Patrons love to drop in or schedule a one-on-one session because it focuses on what they are interested in and teaches them in a very hands-on way how to use their device.”

The library also offers:

‰Computer Basics — Mondays at noon in January, March, May, September and November and at 6 p.m. in February, October and December at the main branch.

‰Your Digital Library — Second Monday of the May at 6 p.m. at the main branch, covering downloads on all devices.

‰Basic Word — First Monday of the month, 6 p.m., main branch.

Bayne said not only is the library offering its patrons a service by helping them become comfortable with new technology, she said incorporating it into the library’s offerings draws more visitors.

“By offering technology assistance, we garner different levels of technology adopters. From the novice to the expert, we've been able to find ways to catch and hold their attention with technology,” she said, noting some have gotten library cards for the first time after discovering the technology they can access by being a regular patron, including Freegal Music and Freegal Movies, Kentucky Libraries Unbound eBooks, Zinio eMagazines and OneClickdigital eAudiobooks.

“It also allows us to expand our services to current patrons,” Bayne continued. “Audiobook users are often excited to find out they can download eAudiobooks directly to their iPod instead of having to transfer them from a CD.  It's really been a game changer as far as who we can reach and how we can reach them.”

The library event allows patrons to check themselves out.

The main and Kyova branches offer self-checkout stations for those in a hurry to get in and out during peak periods.

“And, more importantly, it frees up staff to provide even better one-on-one service,” Cosper said.

The system gives patrons a receipt with due dates for materials checked out. The service also helps protect patrons’ privacy, as only the patron knows what items are being checked ouit

Gilmore said many of the library’s activities center on technology.

The library will celebrate Teen Tech Week March 9 through 14 with the theme “DIY at Your Library.”

“We are going to let teens ‘play’ with the devices in our tech lab March 11 at main and March 20 at Kyova,” Gilmore said. “We are also having a Create a Meme contest for teens from March 9 through 18. They can create a unique library or book-related meme and submit on our Facebook or Instagram pages, or by email. The winner gets a $25 gift card to the download store of their choice.”

She said summer reading themes will be “Fizz, Boom, Read” for those up to 12 and "Spark a Reaction" for teens. Programs will  run for eight weeks in June and July.

“We are still in the planning stages of this, but are looking at some fun science-related programs and rewards,” she said.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.