"We have installed the Gateway PC at the public library in Spearfish. It is connected to the Internet and we have Microsoft Internet Explorer working nicely. Training is still to come, but I think we "blew away" the library staff by demonstrating the vastness of the information they now have at their fingertips!"
One of the 8th grade teachers who is a regular library user noticed the new computer and asked to bring in her 8th graders to get an orientation to the Internet. Ultimately every 8th grader in Deadwood and Lead (next town over), about 130 youngsters in groups of 4-5, will be in the Deadwood library so the librarian can tell them about using the Internet. Other teachers have also heard about the demonstrations and been in to see what this new service is all about. The librarian thought it was interesting that several of the younger students, 6th graders, thought that the library should use one of the Internet censor products.
Another warm fuzzy from the Deadwood library is about the woman who came in for medical information and found a support group on the Internet for her particular medical condition. She is very happy!
The day the computer boxes arrived via UPS, I had no idea what to do. I couldn't even check the packing slip because the language was "Greek" to me. Miraculously, college student Brett Madsen walked in the door. Now, Brett is one of these kids who loves computers more than he loves girls. I was standing there looking totally frustrated. He took one look at the Gateway boxes and his eyes lit up. Before I had a chance to beg for help, he had the boxes opened, the packing slip checked, and had begun hooking cords together.
No one on the library staff had ever used a "mouse" before this computer arrived. We were sure the darned thing moved all on its own. When one staff member who is 76 years old and has tremors tried to learn to use the mouse just enough to turn the computer off at night, she couldn't get it to stay put long enough to "click." A sixth-grade boy who was watching finally could stand it no longer. "Just give me that mouse," he ordered. Then he proceeded to find a spot somewhere in the bowels of that computer where he could slow the mouse waaaaaay down so that she could use it.
My previous experience with computers did not include CD-ROM. What was I to do to make the disks work? I did manage to open the boxes all by myself. I even figured out which button to push to make the drawer slide out. That was as far as I got. Our local physician's assistant happened by just at that moment. He told me he had a Macintosh, but he was sure he could figure this out and in less than 2 minutes, he had Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor up and running -- and attracting kids.
We are using the Libraries Online! equipment like you wouldn't believe-all day almost every day. Even though we are out of school today because there is no water, I have had students in I-netting and using the reference sources.
Librarian Lee Crary reports that the computer has been such a tremendous hit that use has been limited to 15 minutes per use unless it is a school research project. Kids are showing up in the library at 8 a.m. and some have skipped recess to get some time on the computer.
One eighth grade boy says, "That's one hunky son-of-Gateway!" And a senior who will be graduating in two weeks says, "Sure, now you get Internet, when I'm leaving!"
The other school in the project, White River, reports that students came to school on a day when there was no school (water problems) just so they could go "I-netting" and use the reference resources.
State Library sponsors a two-week summer institute for public librarians (mostly without formal library education) in June. This year there was a unit on making the Internet available and how to use it. Four Libraries Online! librarians were the panel of experts (they were also institute participants) to let the others in attendance know this is something that can be done even in very small communities. They discussed what they expected, what they got, how the public reacted and the pitfalls/highlights.
Credits: South Dakota State Library Staff, and recipient Library Staff, 4/96