Libraries embrace technology ahead of summer

Published on Saturday, 10 June 2017 22:36
Written by Adam Hushin

Special to the Herald

The job of a librarian is ever-changing.

Libraries in the area are utilizing technologies in new ways as the busy season of summer approaches.

For most libraries, summer is the busiest season of the year. In fact, the months leading up to summer are spent primarily planning events.

This includes so much more than the popular summer reading list.

This year’s summer reading theme is “Building a Better World.”

Newington Library Director Lisa Masten says that the summer programming will be built around this theme and that the overall goal is to promote reading and education through summer.

Every local public library has a summer reading selection for all age groups, as well as a full calendar of summer programs.

From necessary services like passport renewals and discussions on opioid addiction, to fun activities like “drive-in” movies and Mardi Gras celebrations, the libraries have an event-packed summer.

Each library has a full list of calendar events that can be found on their website.

However, librarians and directors are concerned with more than just summer events.

With technology advancing faster than ever, libraries are finding new roles in the community, and how to use the internet as a tool, rather than competition.

Southington Library Director Susan Smayda says she is embracing the role as a community center.

“There is a changing paradigm, we still provide reading, listening, and watchable content, but along with that we have a role as a community center.” Smayda said.

Library meeting rooms are a place for community forums that promote civic engagement.

“We want to embrace the changing environment and create a safe place that brings people together,” Smayda says.

Smayda believes that libraries are the best place to quickly and directly address problems within a community.

One such example at the Southington Library is their partnership with the Wheeler Clinic to help people find health services that they need.

The Southington Library, like many others, is embracing new technologies.

In a YouTube video, Smayda demonstrates how to use the new, electronic, self-checkout machine. This allows patrons to scan their library card to have their materials dispensed faster and easier.

The importance of embracing technology is nothing new to Plainville Library Director Douglas Lord.

“If we didn’t have the internet we wouldn’t last a day,” Lord said. “There’s competition in a sense, but Google is a culture you can’t avoid.”

The Plainville Public Library has begun using the new digital streaming service ‘hoopla.’

Hoopla works almost exactly like Netflix, except that it contains eBooks, music, and other media, and also that it works simply with a library card rather than a paid subscription.

Libraries also utilize social media like Facebook to reach out to potential visitors.

The Plainville Library Children’s Director Ericka Bajrami says that they now have a website specifically for children that allow people to view summer programs more easily.

The Plainville Library also uses an Instagram account to give a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of a library.

The New Britain Public Library has implemented mobile hotspot rentals within the last year.

This service, which allows internet access no matter where you are, has immediately become very popular.

Other new services from the New Britain Library include Mango language teaching services, and a partnership with Dattco that will allow the Library to be taken on the road to different New Britain neighborhoods throughout the summer.

New Britain Library Director Pat Rutkowski knows that even though the usage of print will not end anytime soon, it is still a challenge for everyone to form a strong online presence.

“There is a competition for everyone’s free time,” Rutkowski said.

Rutkowski hopes that offering assistance programs like SAT or driving test prep, resume and job information, and filtered databases will help the library succeed.

The New Britain Public Library will be hosting their annual Summer Reading Bash on Wednesday, June 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event includes read-alouds, activity booths, and refreshments.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News, Plainville, Southington Herald on Saturday, 10 June 2017 22:36. Updated: Saturday, 10 June 2017 22:38.