"Log On at your Library" day coincided with our planned 16th Birthday Party. The Pend Oreille County Library District was officially 16 years old this year, and we always celebrate her birthday during National Library Week. So we dubbed it a "Coming Out Party," and announced that the library was Debutante to the Global Village. We had a lovely cake, baked and decorated by staff member Pam Martinson , and speeches from the Chair of the Library Board, the President of the Friends of the Library, and the Mayor of Newport. Then Jodi Reng presented a PowerPoint demonstration and history of the District, ending with a tour of the Internet and an invitation to the Chat with Bill Gates the next morning. 74 people attended - an astounding number, considering that when House Speaker Tom Foley last visited Newport, he only drew a crowd of 32.
Frankly, I had predicted a really boring event. To my surprise, quite a group of people were interested in simply watching the process. 38 people attended, including library staff, library Board members and their families, computer students from the High School, members of the Oldtown/Newport computer club (adults), and even local business owners and dignitaries. It was exciting that the question we submitted first was answered almost immediately. Each question was discussed as it went across the screen, and the local discussion sometimes delayed the reading of Bill's answer. What a positive, exciting discussion it was! And there was a bonus: After the chat was over, the new head of GTE for the area (who attended the chat) got together with a man who wanted to provide Internet service for the county. Now Pend Oreille County has a local service provider!!!!
Between these two events, dozens of people who had not been in the library before, or who had not seen all the changes of the past few years, had the opportunity to tour our facility and were IMPRESSED with how high-tech our little library has become, and how powerful we are in our ability to find information quickly and easily. The theme of both events was Universal Access, and our citizens are impressed by how far we have come in conquering the barriers of geography and indifference to bring access to knowledge and information to such a remote rural area.
All the frustrations we have had during the course of the project became insignificant compared to the high of seeing the excitement generated at these two events.
REFERENCE SERVICE IS GETTING EVEN BETTER
Because we have very limited shelf space, there are many reference works we are simply unable to stock, such as the Corpus Juris. It has been a continuing embarrassment for me to be unable to provide answers for people who want to know the exact wording of the United States Code. While we were searching the Internet in text only mode, we were able to find answers to some of their questions, but it was time consuming and we had to take phone numbers and call patrons back in a day or two with their answers.
During the past week, it has been fun to introduce searchers to the World Wide Web, call up the home page for the House of Representatives, and let them search to their hearts' content. The fact that the United States Code is key-word searchable on that page means that they find ALL references to their topic in the law, rather than just the primary title and section. They love it. As a by-product, I come off looking like an expert, and the patron does all the time-consuming work.
THE KALISPEL TRIBE - WHAT A SURPRISE!
Once in a while, we underestimate the people with whom we work. I have been aware of the continuing work going on at the library at the Kalispel Tribal Center for some time, but I had not visited there for over a year. When Dale Weathers and I went up to install the computer donated to the tribe by Microsoft, we discovered that they have built a new community center and library building. Instead of putting the computer in the Tribal Offices, as we had expected to do, we were asked to install it in the Community Center so that it would be available for use by everyone who visits the library or takes part in the activities at the Center. This includes small children, teenagers, adults, and seniors.
In my usual "We are here to help you" manner, I offered to teach classes or workshops in the use of the Microsoft Software. I discovered, to my chagrin, that the tribal officers and the secretaries at the tribal office already know how to use Windows 95, Word, Works, Publisher, PowerPoint, and all of the Office components, because this software is installed on each of their desktop computers. They also have an instructor who is already planning to teach classes in each of those applications.
Their excitement about the project is based on the availability of the equipment and software to all members of the tribe, and the access to the CD ROM applications, which they have not had previously. They are also excited about Internet Access through POCLD. At this point, however, they are still held up trying to get telephone lines to the community center to make their access possible. (They are going to allow me to come and teach them to use the Internet Explorer, because they have not had previous access to that. I will humbly share with them what I have learned so far, and we will learn together from there.)
Credits: Submitted by Jodi Reng, 4/96.