Technology's Impact!

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Technology Leads to Jobs and Lasting Connections

May 13, 2013

This spring, a patron needed to take several crucial career-related exams online but her home computer wasn't working. For several days, she came to the library to use one of our computers to take her exams. After her exams had been completed, our staff noticed that we were seeing both the patron and her daughter much more frequently at the library.

In a very thoughtful letter to our director, the patron wrote, "Your staff welcomed me, made me feel comfortable and extended my computer time as they were able to. They facilitated my study in the most comfortable and efficient way. I so much loved my experience at the Freeport Community Library that I now come often after school with my daughter. She does her homework and I catch up on my reading."

And as we recently found out from the patron, the completion of the online exams helped her get a great job in her field! We celebrated her success and are thrilled that the hours of her new position will still permit her to come to the library with her daughter on a regular basis.

Submitted by Robin, Freeport Community Library, Freeport


May 2, 2013

A 4th grader named Elizabeth came into the library recently with her mom to find books on seahorses. Raymond Village Library is a small library and our collection is not large. Here is where MARVEL came in handy!

I showed them some databases appropriate for Elizabeth's age. They were Searchasaurus, and the Britannica Elementary Encyclopedia. I also encouraged them to take a look at some of the other databases included in Marvel for future reference. Elizabeth and her mom were very pleased.

A woman came in to the library in need of a job. She used the public access computer at the to do her resume and asked me to look it over. She was so appreciative for access to the computer and the help with her resume she gave me a big hug before she left.

Two small business entrepreneurs come with their laptops on a regular basis to use the free wi-fi at the library and I know appreciate having access to that service at the library.

My goal each day is that people leave the library not only satisfied but delighted and having access to a safe and comfortable space where access to technology and information is easily accessible is extremely important.

Submitted by Sally, Raymond Village Library, Raymond

Our Town

May 2, 2013

Let me count the ways..Remember walking to the library as a kid?biking?strapping the books to the handlebars?exploring dark corners with books that hadn?t been read recently?finding treasures?the librarian that was always there and knew my name and my card # by heart?who knew the family even though at the time we were summer people?my kids climbing the same stools to reach the library counter?and discovering the joy of reading?the library?a priceless treasure!

Submitted by D, Rockport Public Library, Rockport

Reaching Out to Seniors

May 2, 2013

In the past few years the Farmington Public Library has acquired 9 laptop computers through 2 grants. We have been using the computers with our videoconferencing equipment and Learning Express to teach computers skills to seniors.

We keep the classes informal and limit the number of attendees to 6 people. The class is called Tech Time and is advertised as a "bring any question" session. We've taught people how to use email and Facebook and even mouse skills. They bring in church projects, digital photos and their Ipads.

We always make sure everyone knows they can come back in to see a staff member who will help them with their technology questions. This has been a wonderful opportunity to make seniors more comfortable with technology. Our library could not have done this without the Gates Foundation and the computers and training we received through the BTOP grant.

Submitted by Melanie Taylor, Farmington Public Library, Farmington

She Got A Job!

April 6, 2013

A woman has been coming into our new library building and using one of the public access computers for over a year now. She learned how to apply for jobs on-line and developed word processing and file management skills with considerable help from the library staff for the first few months but after that, she was flying solo. She estimates she applied for thousands of jobs. Last week, she came in to give and get a hug because she was hired for a job and she was thrilled. At a tough time in her life, she persisted in learning what she needed to do in today's job market and succeeded! It was just as satisfying for us as it was for her.

Submitted by Karen, South Berwick Public Library, South Berwick

Video Production Uploads

March 26, 2013

Deadlines and large files are daily challenges in the world of a video producer. I deal with clients all over the country and I need to send them large video files of edits as they are created. While it is easy and relatively cheap to arrange for an internet connection that has reasonable download speeds, it is next to impossible to get upload throughput short of FiberOptics. However, Rockport Public Library has 12 times the upload speed that I have and it is definitely worth the effort to drive over and utilize their bandwidth. Even if I let the upload go all night from my house, there are almost always glitches that render it moot by the morning. A few minutes at the library (or parked nearby during the closed hours) allows for me to keep on schedule. Whether it is 400 MB or 2 Gigabytes it is always so much easier to upload at the Library. Colleagues all over the state are now utilizing this wonderful service when I point out the solution to their own uploading challenges. A big "thank you" to the Libraries, the Librarians, directors, and the infrastructure that allows this life-line to my clients.

Submitted by Geoff, Rockport Public Library, Rockport

Patron Computers Help to Narrow the Digital Divide

March 22, 2013

Recently, we were vividly reminded as to how important and vital a public library is to its community with its technological accessibility.

An older woman who had long been able to find work in low-paying jobs was faced with a life crisis: newly unemployed, she had solidly hit a brick wall with no way to move past it. Filing for unemployment, or applying for jobs that previously needed only a paper application now meant doing so online. She needed to write a resume, (which she had never done), which also required computer access. She could not afford a computer, could not access the Internet, and without that ability, could not move forward in her situation. She didn't know how to use a mouse, never had e-mail, and had no idea where to find Google. However, she did know where she could find help for that. She came to us.

It took time that day, but we helped her create her first resume and her first e-mail account, which she was proud of. We showed her how to find jobs, and how to apply for them online. For her, the playing field became leveled. She's one of many we see daily--was provided the means to be able to begin moving forward by our library's having Internet access and patron computers.

Submitted by Jennifer, Rice Public Library, Kittery

Resume Help for a Nurse

March 22, 2013

A patron asked for help revising her resume. She was working at one of our public computers and obviously very frustrated. She had e-mailed herself her old resume in the body of an e-mail and could not understand why she couldn't edit it in the email.

I showed her how to copy and paste the body of the resume into a Word document, and after seeing that she knew little about Word, spent time with her showing her the basics of using Microsoft Word.

As I worked with her on her resume I could see that she was a highly trained R.N. and obviously very bright. It occurred to me that she probably only filled out online forms and reports at the hospital and did very little document creation. So many adults have learned only the computer skills that they need to do their jobs. They depend on their public library for help with digital literacy.

This patron left with a nice-looking resume. I hope she got the job she was applying for!

Submitted by Pamela, Winslow Public Library, Winslow

Many Needs, One Place to Go

March 20, 2013

There is a woman who comes in to keep up on research in her field. While here she has produced letters and flyers as marketing materials for her self-employed business.

We also serve as a proctoring site for exams and assessments for several online academic institutions, for people who are trying to increase their qualifications for various jobs.

For the past two years, a library patron who works in the medical field has come to the library with help to access online training modules and exams that are required to keep her job. This patron is not comfortable with computers and needs a lot of hands-on assistance, but each year with a lot of help she passes her exams and keeps her job.

Another regular computer user uses the library computers several times a week and recently told me that we were more help than the local Maine Job Center. Last week, she needed help to navigate the transition from job gateways to specific applications and assistance uploading required documents needed for job applications.

We help multiple patrons a week who wish to access e-books on loan through the state-wide system. Last weekend three of our reference staff members spent a couple hours helping a gentleman with an older computer and a Kobo set up both to download and transfer e-books for a cross-country trip that he and his wife were taking.

Today I saw two of our older patrons who do not want to deal with the expense and technological hurdles of Internet access at home. Both gentleman are still working and access professional resources as well as keeping in touch with family members and friends on library computers.

Submitted by Marian, Curtis Memorial Library, Brunswick

East Blue Hill, Hotspot for Captains of Industry

March 20, 2013

East Blue Hill, Maine is one of those small towns in the State which nearly doubles in population size in the summer. Because year-round WiFi to the summer cottage isn't cost effective or the stay is only for a short internship with the organic farmer, the little library becomes a popular place - inside and out!

Last Summer one gal brought her beach chair and sun tan lotion and set up on the porch to fill out graduate application forms; one lady who lives on Fifth Avenue in New York sat on the steps checking her email; more than one "captain of industry" came inside and checked on his stocks and bonds or business back home. Numerous others simply drove up and used the WiFi from their cars.

I learned only last week that several individuals and home businesses within connection reach of the library, rely on our WiFi for their professional work. Right now there are 28 young people in the town 14 and under. As their needs for computer access grow, this library will be able to accommodate them if we continue to have an affordable e-rate with Federal support.

Submitted by Marjorie, East Blue Hill Library, East Blue Hill

Connecting the Generations in Gardiner

March 20, 2013

About a year ago, a senior citizen called to see if we had a computer that she could use. I told her to come on in and we would get her set up. I happened to be at the desk when she came in and she was probably in her early 80's. She fearfully looked at the computer and admitted she had never even used one before.

I asked her what she wanted to do. She told me that her granddaughter had just had a baby and was living at a military base in Alaska. She would never have a chance to meet this new infant, but her granddaughter had put up pictures out on a website (though I cannot recall which one). I pulled up the website and she just started crying she was so excited to "meet" this new baby.

I hooked her up with our technology librarian who gave her some quick Internet lessons. She came in a few months later to inform me that she now just needed a wireless connection because she has purchased a laptop.

More generic things at GPL: 1) most tax forms are electronic, so we help folks download their tax forms (though never give tax advise!) 2) people use the computers to file their unemployment information, and, to search for jobs 3) a local bank sends folks over when they ask for ways to check their credit reports 4) genealogy... the free library edition has made us a very popular spot for tourists and genealogists both

Submitted by Anne, Gardiner Public Library, Gardiner

An Essential Need

March 20, 2013

I patronize a circle of libraries in Ellsworth, Blue Hill, Bucksport, Belfast as well as Castine. While Castine is my preferred place to spend time on-line, the others are available to me when and if I'm in town. The need is essential because I do not have internet at home, and the reason is because I have been unemployed for months. My financial situation is further aggravated by having graduate school debt.

Submitted by Deborah, Witherle Memorial Library, Castine

Comments from Winslow Library Lovers

March 20, 2013

Here are some patron comments about library computers that we gathered on Snapshot Day last fall:

"A library is very important for me in doing a job search or research on the computer. If there is an article I need to find in a newspaper, or book I can easily find it.."

"I left home for two years to serve a mission and this is the only way I have contact with my family."

"The library offers a quiet place to read and offers computer services that I could not otherwise afford."

"I don't have internet at home, and the librarians show me how to use the computer."

Submitted by Pamela, Winslow Public Library, Winslow

The Bottom Line

March 20, 2013

The Simpson Memorial Library gets its internet through the Maine State Library Network, and we do e-rate for the phone.

There is no way this little library could provide internet for our patrons. We do not have the funds to pay for it. E-rate and MSLN internet help us to keep the doors open.

Submitted by Becky, Simpson Memorial Library, Carmel

The World Comes to Greenville

March 20, 2013

As a summer destination location we have countless visitors overjoyed with the fact that they can connect to the world in our small remote location. They are so appreciative of our free service that they actually can't believe it and try to make donations. Here are a few examples:

  1. A young couple from Germany desperately needed to get in touch with a parent who was recovering from surgery that occurred while they were in the United States. They were able to get in touch with relatives and learn of his condition.

  2. A person from England was so grateful to be able to Facetime with an elderly parent after having been off the grid for a number of days.

  3. Appalachian Trail travelers have been able to make contact with the world after their treks.

  4. Countless users have used the internet to confirm flight reservations, etc.

  5. During the long snowy winter months our townspeople are able to connect effortlessly and quickly to download titles. Many of our residents have dial-up. Also a less costly connection with DSL is only available if you live within three miles of the switching station.

Submitted by Linda, Shaw Public Library, Greenville

The Little Library that Does

March 20, 2013

The Cherryfield Public Library would not be able to offer half of its services without the Internet Connection we receive through the E-Rate Program. Thanks to the Fiber Optic Internet service that we have obtained through the Maine School and Library Network (MSLN) we can offer our patrons a wide variety of services and run our business as it needs to be in today's world of "Cloud" Technology.

Cherryfield is a small rural town with a population of around 1200 citizens. The library is a private non-profit organization which runs on two endowment accounts and the generosity of patron donations. If not for the Internet connection we get from E-Rate through the MSLN we simply would not have Internet in our building; the expense would be far more than our budget would allow.

Our library is the only location in our area to offer 24/7 non-password protected Wireless Internet Service. We find that many travelling employees (Home Health Care, Delivery Drivers, etc.) use our WiFi at all hours to file reports and update directions amongst other things. We have the highest speed connection in the area. We find many people will use our connection for computer software updates or downloads because it would take them hours at home whereas they can accomplish the same task in mere minutes here. Our computers are always full during tax season as more and more forms and services are available only online.

The connection has allowed us to provide various computer classes for both the general public as well as our large senior community. Many of our senior students would not be able to use their computers if not for the help they receive at the Library.

We were proud to be the first library in our area to partner with the Smithsonian Museums for Interactive Video Conference Programs. Without our High Speed Internet there is no way we would even have a Tandberg Video Conferencing Device, never mind use it for such fabulous programming. The connection has also allowed us to use our Tandberg to connect with other library programs throughout the state for programs such as Lawyers in Libraries and informational sessions for small business with the IRS.

Because of our Internet connection we were able to participate in an automation grant which allowed us to catalog our Library for the first time in its 174 year history and use a Cloud Program (LibraryWorld) for Automation.

All-in-all our little library would not exist in today's day and age without the support of E-Rate and the Internet connection it provides. We have been dubbed "The Little Library that Could"? but without E-Rate, we couldn't!

Submitted by Cara, Cherryfield Public Library, Cherryfield

Bringing the Community Together at the Library

March 20, 2013

I live in Washington County where there are ample reasons for e-rate to continue and be affordable.

1) The county, like much of Maine, is very rural (in our case, 33,000 people for a county the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined). People are few and they are spread out. My nearest neighbor is 1/2 mile up the road. Technology is essential for such environments to reduce isolation, increase social contact and ensure safety.

2) There are many elderly people in rural Maine who are not computer savvy and/or do not have the funds to buy a personal computer. Having free access is essential. Folks need access as well as technical support both of which are in libraries.

3) There are no sites other than libraries where folks can have public access. We have no internet cafes or other places where computers are available.

4) Libraries in rural areas are notoriously poor. Libraries rely on limited municipal funding and significant fundraising activities to keep the doors open on even a part-time basis with volunteers and poorly paid part-time employees.

5) Having computers in libraries has created a synergy that has been exciting. Folks who might not read books, come into libraries to use computers and are exposed to the various resources of the libraries. In turn, folks who do read books, come into libraries and are exposed to computers. I volunteer in my local library and see this happen all the time. The library is a real community center in a small town.

6) In the day when we are all experiencing everything being cut, it would be great to keep something going that has created tremendous access to technology in rural areas.

Submitted by Janet, Lubec Memorial Library, Lubec

Certifications and Educations Online

March 20, 2013

A local pharmaceutical representative uses the Library's Internet connection to take a tests for re-certification every few months. He has to answer forty-five questions in fifty-five minutes and each question has to be submitted, which can use valuable seconds if the connection is slow. He states that he has much less stress during the test knowing that the Library's Internet is high-speed and reliable.

A number of years ago a woman, who didn't have Internet access at home, got her MBA using, for the most part, the Library's public access computers. Since receiving her degree she has opened a financial services business in town and next month she will present a program at the Library during Money Smart week.

About a year and a half ago the mother of a local high school student lost her job. One of many ways she saved money was to discontinue home Internet service. Both she and her daughter used the Library's Internet nearly every day; she applying for work and her daughter doing homework. After about a year she got a job, but Internet access still isn't in her budget, so when she needs to get online she is at the Library. Her daughter is walking into the Library right now as she does most days after school. Our high school loans all high school students iPads and Internet connectivity is essential for assignments as well as corresponding with teachers.

Submitted by Debbie, Edythe Dyer Library, Hampden

Trescott's Source for Internet Access

March 20, 2013

In most of the Unorganized Territory of Trescott, there is no internet access available whatsoever (with the exception of dial-up, which is not recognized by many newer computers). Everyone--students, adults, area visitors--must leave the area to find unsecured (available) access.

Most often, this means coming into Lubec (the nearest town) to the Lubec Memorial Library, not only for Internet access, but to print any documents from the Internet. This service is essential to our students and residents. Elimination of funding would render it impossible for our small Community Library to continue offering free internet access to those who most need it.

Submitted by Debra, Lubec Memorial Library, Lubec

Blizzards are No Obstacle

March 20, 2013

On February 8 2013, the Friday at the start of the blizzard, the Paris Public Library was open for several hours. Understandably, given the forecast and the falling snow, we did not expect to be very busy.

Between 10 and Noon, we had two people come into borrow books. During the same time though, we had all 9 public desktop computers and all four public laptops being used, with other people waiting (and some leaving). All these people were on the Internet, utilizing the MSLN connection, for their various purposes. They all needed access to computers and the Internet enough to come out in some increasingly challenging weather.

Submitted by Mike, Paris Public Library, Paris

Southwest Harbor: Gateway to the Internet

March 20, 2013

I know this seems hard to believe, especially for an area like Mount Desert Island, but there are some parts of our community that can not get Internet service and there are also many families who can not afford computers.

Our public access computers are in constant use. Some patrons use them for entertainment, like Facebook and email, but others use them to search for jobs, services, and research. Still others bring in their own laptops, though we have three for lending. We often have students taking online classes or tests from our Library or patrons needing help with a resume, not only formatting it but also emailing it.

A large part of what we do here is help patrons navigate the Internet; now so much is only available online and those that do not have easy access to the digital world really rely on us. If we had to pay for the quality of Internet service we offer we would not be able to offer much of anything else. Our high-speed connection is invaluable to the library and its patrons.

Submitted by Candy, Southwest Harbor Public Library, Southwest Harbor

Bridging the Digital Divide in Rangeley

March 20, 2013

The federally-funded e-rate program has been a huge blessing to our library. In our rural, mountainous part of the state, internet (or even cell phone) access is very spotty. For many of our patrons, the Rangeley Library is the only place that they can gain internet access. Many people come in regularly to check their email accounts or to look up information online. At this time of year, it is the only place that some people can file their federal and state taxes.

Even for people who live where internet service is available, some of them just cannot afford a computer and internet fees. The library acts as the "great equalizer" for many of our poorer citizens, bridging the digital divide between them and the more affluent.

And finally, the Rangeley Library's ability to provide internet access to our patrons helps the economy of the Rangeley Lakes region, and the economy of the state of Maine. Our area is heavily dependent on tourism, and we have many people who come for extended periods of time, continuing to work via the internet at the library. There are people who are literally here every day of their stay, sometimes all summer long. Our library acts as their office while on vacation. If this service were not available, many tourists would not be able to stay as long because they would not be able to leave their places of business for such extensive periods.

I sincerely hope that the federal e-rate program will continue. It has been a great benefit to the Rangeley Library and I am sure to many other libraries as well.

Submitted by Janet, Rangeley Public Library, Rangeley

Job-searching at Sixty

March 20, 2013

I thought it pertinent to relate a recent story from our library in Brewer. Recently we experienced a local hardware store closing after more than 6 years in business. The 19 workers who had been employed by this store for an average of 15 years each began the arduous task of finding new employment. One such person was a sixty-year-old woman with a high school education. The local career center had sent her to our library to learn basic computer skills, create a resume, search and apply for jobs. Without our library MSLN connection the bulk of these tasks would be impossible.

We assisted her with her software skills, create a resume and begin the job search. She is now enrolled in a network that assists people older than 55 find employment and gain the needed confidence to retrain for a new career. She visits us several times a week to keep up with her new found skills.

The federal e-rate program which funds more than 70% of the MSLN is crucial in our continued work to assist unemployed people in our community. The current budget crisis on every level directly impacts so much of what we can accomplish within our libraries. I know our library would not be able to afford the connectivity we have without the federal e-rate program.

This is just one example of the dozens we could offer up. Children, workers, students and people from all walks of life come to Maine libraries daily. They visit not only for the books and programs but for the community and connectivity we offer. Thank you for your continued support.

Submitted by Donna, Brewer Public Library, Brewer

Learning Computer Skills for Today's Job Market

March 20, 2013

I have a woman who has been coming into our library to apply for jobs for many months now. She is middle-aged with grown children and is an intelligent person. When she first came in to the library she had worked as a bank teller and said that she just needed a computer to apply on-line and that she knew how to use the computer. She was confident that is would take her a week or two to get a new job. The current job-seeking environment was a huge shock to her.

It turned out that her computer skills were minimal and she needed lots of hands-on help and encouragement to apply to jobs on-line. She learned how to attach her resume to an application, how to use the office document software and she also learned that she wasn't going to get a job fast. We helped her on-the-fly and she has been very grateful.

She is still looking for work and she tells me when she has an interview and how things are going. She has many more computer skills now than when she started, largely self-taught with some special help to get her started. She now uses the library as a place to recreate as well and has brought other members of her family in to use the computers. I hope any day now she will come in and tell me she has a job.

Submitted by Karen, South Berwick Public Library, South Berwick

Friends of Maine Libraries Spreads the Word Via MSLN

March 20, 2013

MSLN, because it provides connectivity to public libraries in Maine, makes it possible for FoML (Friends of Maine Libraries) to make good use of the database provided by MSL to spread the word to libraries throughout the state in a cost efficient manner. The MSL public library directory contains the email direct link to every library which gives us the power to keep all libraries, not just our members, informed about who we are and what we do. It is a vehicle for us to get the word out about our services and our grant program that directly supports libraries. We do not have the funds to do paper mailings to everyone.

Submitted by Laurel, Friends of Maine Libraries, Windham