To further systemic change to a technologically advanced institution and provide equal access to information and knowledge resources to all members of the community, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) used Libraries Online! resources to develop multimedia networked capability in three key neighborhood branch libraries located in disadvantaged, low income areas of the City. The three libraries targeted for this project were the BayView/Hunters Point Branch, the Excelsior Branch, and the Chinatown Branch.
In each selected branch library, SFPL installed between two to six multimedia Pentium computers capable of running Electronic Discovery Center educational CD ROMs, other multimedia materials, and graphical Internet access. They also included CD-ROM "jukebox" players to accommodate a large selection of programs. T1 lines, routers and interior wiring were installed to synchronize these branch service levels with the other areas of the City served by the Main Library. The Libraries Online! program enabled SFPL to jump-start a plan to upgrade access to telecommunications in all branch libraries.
SFPL learned from other initiatives that the most important element for adopting new technologies is to provide in-depth training for staff so they can develop a secure knowledge and comfort level to assist patrons and take the lead in using new media. With this in mind, SFPL implemented a training program for the Libraries Online! project that created learning and skills development opportunities for staff in neighborhood branches. SFPL contracted with a training consultant/librarian who conducted an intensive in-house training for key librarians, who in turn trained volunteers and members of the public to serve library patrons. The Libraries Online! program fit nicely with a National Science Foundation funded project that concurrently focused on outreach and training for families, school librarians and teachers.
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