Library books from around the globe will soon be available from the comfort of your couch.
Iowan public library frequenters will never need to leave home again thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is now funding a project called, putting libraries on the web. (PLOW)
The State library in Des Moines will handle servers so as that they will connect with all libraries. They will provide software so as that all libraries will have a professional looking site.
This service will revolutionize the whole public library browsing experience, by giving it the comforts of home.
“There will be a web site so as that the public can look and see what is available, then they can just contact the library and they will make an order for them,” said Jill Sanders, director of Elkader Public Library.
The public may never need to leave home again because many areas offer some type of delivery service, such as Books on Wheels.
“If they live within the city limits we can deliver,” she said. There are other states that are watching this because this is ground-breaking,” she added, pointing out how Iowa is leading the way.
In recent years the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated computers to every library across the United States. Iowa was one of the last States to receive the computers and thus it was noticed by Sanders that Iowa has a lot of libraries in comparison to other States. Iowa has 550 libraries and out of those 550, it was expected that only 100 would be getting computers; but 300 were fitted with computers and they also received training paid for by the Foundation, according to Sanders.
“It just goes to show how much it was needed,” she explained.
There are nine libraries in Clayton County and Elkader is the largest.
Sophistication Doesn’t Extend to Penalizing Library Book Thieves – They Still Get Off Scot. Free.
With all of this sophistication brought about by computers and the unrivaled inter-library loan system that is now going global, it seems strange that there is still no system for penalizing the pilferer and public library book privilege abuser. Some libraries suffer more from this than others. However, Chris Bee, director of Murphy Memorial Library, Monona explained that it is because of privacy issues that people get away with it.
“We can go within the police system but that is not at the top of their to do list, there are more pressing issues than library thieves,” she said. “We can take away their privileges here, which is what we essentially do,” she added.
Sophisticated Libraries Go From Sublime to Ridiculous
While libraries share new technology they do not share the same rules. Each library sets its own standards; Murphy Memorial Library loans books, tapes and videos for two weeks at a time, and then gives another one week’s grace period before charging five cents a day for late fees. Farmersburg and McGregor Public libraries still go by the quaint common decency rule; McGregor has a conscience jar, according to Bee, and the public can donate whatever they want for late fees. Farmersburg on the other hand, just has an imaginary conscience jar that serves the same purpose, however it has been the case that on returning videos a month or more later, members of the public have not been impressed with the idea of having to donate anything at all. It is a good thing for these members of the public that they do not reside in Elkader where they would be expected to pay $1 per day on late DVDs that they can rent for two days at a time.
How will the Proctor Test be affected by this new in-home library sophisticated convenience?
Since the onset of computers in libraries the Proctor Test, which is done in libraries usually for colleges and continuing education programs has become a norm.
“So many courses are being offered online – some schools have online tests also and we proctor those too,’ Sanders said.
It is unlikely that the Proctor Test will see any change in the immediate future, but with change happening so rapidly – could it be possible that two way cameras could become part of the equation – the possibilities are endless.