High Tech Libraries

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - 9:27am

Today's libraries are looking to the future.

Once a stalwart of stuffiness and shushing, today's libraries are looking to the future, balancing tomes with technology, and the needs of the community.

Store closing. It's a sign all too familiar in the windows of bookstores across the nation. And many people wonder if libraries will soon be following suit.

That just isn't the case as libraries big and small are keeping up with the ever-changing trends in technology, and keeping the people coming through the doors.

Sue Smayda, Executive Director of the Southington Library and Museum, says "it's been a speedy and dramatic change that librarians are reacting to as best we can."

In Southington, people young and old are benefiting from their services. In the children's section, some books even have QR codes you can scan with your mobile device.

Cindy Wall, the Children's Librarian at Southington Library and Museum, says "I put them on the books and they give the children additional content."

And while kids still love taking home books, especially when they can scan them out on their own, they also come for the computers.

Michele Colwell tries to visit once a week with her daughter Michaela.

Parent Michelle Colwell says "she loves different stories and as she's gotten older she enjoys playing with the computers now, too."

Can't get to the library? You can log-on at home and read books directly from their website. Many libraries also offer downloadable e-books via their sites as well.

Sue says "there's gonna be a button on our home page. You click on that button from your home or your mobile device and you have to download an app and then you're gonna be set to go."

And whatever happened to "shhhh…you're in the library?" Here at the Hartford Public Library, those days are long gone. In fact, they actually have designated quiet rooms that you can reserve if you need to.

They also have 210 computers for public use, as well as a learning lab where people can take classes to keep up with the latest programs.

Matthew Poland, CEO of Hartford Public Library, says they could actually use another 100 computers to keep up with the demand.

Matthew Poland, CEO, Hartford Public Library, says "in our city it's estimated that only about 20% of the residents actually have access at home to technology so the library becomes a very significant part of daily living."

Many libraries also have job centers and designated business librarians so people who are out of work or looking to switch careers can build resumes and search openings.

In Hartford they also offer passport services and hope to soon offer cooking classes to the public in their new kitchen facility. With all of this new technology, Poland says traffic in the library is up 25% since 2008.

Matthew says "a public library really is the place where people gain access to everything from a newspaper to high technology."

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