Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lending Media, Objects, and Humans as a Source of Information

              Libraries are broadening the definition of resources by offering other forms of access to information within their communities. The resources are based on the idea of increasing circulation at the library and a transition in media use. This text references an “online” series that was published by National Public Radio (NPR) about some of the current programs concerning the reinvention of the physical presence of a library.
            My interest in the series was the integration of objects and experiences of people within a library’s circulation of information. Included in the realm of circulation is the public availability of media devices and software located at the library’s site. The lending of objects and time with people enables an experience beyond the common printed book material known with libraries. Two examples given in the Beyond Books: Libraries Lend Fishing Poles, Pans, and People article are from a library in Rochester, New York and an adaptation of an international program that initiates a diverse dialog.
            The library in Rochester collaborated with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and a local Fish and Game Club to offer the circulation of fishing poles and related equipment. Since the area has fishing year around the library’s director saw it as a way to connect visitors of the library with their community.[1] The opportunity of borrowing a fishing pole gives people a chance to experience fishing possibly for the first time.
            Loaning out people was organized in a different manner than the objects. The Providence Community Library in Rhode Island modified an international program, The Human Library: What’s Your Prejudice?, that encourages dialogue among people with diverse backgrounds or beliefs. The Providence Community Library coordinator of the program sized down the international program to the diverse range of people and their experiences who are in their community. The coordinator stated in the article the public library has contact with all walks of life.
With the library’s application process for the program they were able to obtain a collection of forty “human books.” These “human books” are cataloged and patrons of the library could borrow the people, which entails sitting down with the person for a twenty-minute conversation about their experiences. The Providence Community Library is organizing another Human Library event since the first year went well. If the second event is received as well as the first the library will consider adding the circulation of “human books” on a regular basis.[2] 
            At several libraries, the circulation of media is acknowledged by onsite access. The majority of libraries do lend movies, music, and games. Some libraries have offered gaming access at the library, for example an after school time period for teens. A Houston Public Library Youth Services Manager stated in an NPR article that offering that teen time frame has increased the circulation of books as well as families use of the library. The manager specifically mentions the use of computers, because there are families that either don’t own a computer or have no Internet access at home.[3]
            The libraries offering the circulation of digital devices to individuals who have no or limited access to technology is contributing to bridging the digital divide. In my January 17, 2013, Community Response to the Digital Divide, I refer to other programs that are acknowledging it in specific communities. Two of the programs, Google Fibers and Philadelphia Keyspots were mainly focused on offering the community Internet access and a community site with computers.
Other libraries have incorporated a digital commons area to their site. These digital commons go beyond Internet access and have available diverse styles of computers, digital devices, and creative software for public access.[4]
            This NPR library series presents how some libraries are incorporating circulation of experiences and media devices to accommodate public access to information. The series contains insights of public institutions with digital common areas for future proposals of restaging ideas or contributing ideas to the collection project.  

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