12/23/14

PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY: NO WIRES ATTACHED by Jon Walker

The Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) recently opened three additional new branches.  Planning for these libraries stretches back several years.  They each now represent expanded opportunities for residents to more conveniently access great modern public library services.  This includes plenty of books and other materials, computers and online services, as well as comfortable places to read, listen, view, study, learn and exchange ideas.   One thing that sets these new branches apart from earlier libraries is public-use computing is nearly fully and completely wireless. 
Public libraries for many years now have provided computers and other digital resources as a fundamental part of their service.  This should be no surprise.  Libraries are first and foremost information centers.  Computers and the Internet are vital to modern information delivery. 
Most libraries today experience extremely heavy use of information technology resources.  Computers now can often overshadow books and other print materials as the primary tools in the library.  In a landmark move, the Pueblo City-County Library District’s three new branches are providing this popular and important online access almost exclusively via wireless laptops and tablets.  There are only a handful of hardwired computers in these new libraries, but literally dozens of wireless computers are available to use.
Improvements in WiFi technology has allowed PCCLD to adopt this model in its new libraries.  WiFi networks and wireless devices have improved a great deal recently.  The widespread consumer use of smart phones, tablets, and laptops has accelerated the pace of change from a wired to a wireless world.  PCCLD has taken a logical step in focusing computer services on WiFi in its new libraries.  Pueblo’s new branches may possibly be the very first WiFi-only public libraries in the country, even the world. 
Most libraries around the country have been providing WiFi to the public for a number of years.  The new PCCLD libraries take this to a whole new level.   Here the wireless device is the primary online information appliance instead of serving as an adjunct to the wired computer. 
Too often the space in contemporary libraries commonly has become a crowded room of computer screens and hardwired computers lined up on utilitarian tables with hard plastic chairs for seating.  In PCCLD’s new libraries the experience is intentionally different with greater attention to elegance and comfort.  A patron borrows a laptop or tablet from a shelf of such devices, and finds a suitable seat in the library.  Perhaps it is a comfy chair by a fireplace or a cafĂ© table with nearby coffee and snacks.  Maybe it is a special nook in the library with an outdoor view from a semi-private study.  Customers can even check out a laptop or tablet to use outside the library at home, office or school. 
The advantage in aesthetics and flexibility becomes evident as soon as you step inside PCCLD’s new libraries.   Rather than row upon row of rather unvarying computer screens, the view is instantly and endurably more fluid and pleasing. Something more akin to a cozy private den.   This combines the best from earlier libraries of yore with the strengths of modern technology.
You are invited to visit any of our new libraries and experience it for yourself.  The Greenhorn Valley Library is located at 4801 Cibola Drive in Colorado City in southern Pueblo County.  The Giodone Library's address is 24655 US Hwy 50E on the St. Charles Mesa.  The Lucero Library is at 1315 E. 7th Street in the heart of Pueblo's East Side neighborhood.

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...