VALA2014 – Concurrent Session 6 – Near Futures

USB Ubiquitous Superfast Broadband, the promises and perils of Australian libraries – Warren Cheetham – Townsville City Libraries (VALA Travel Scholar)

Warren suggested using the hashtag #NBN for twitter community.

There was lost of promise about what the NBN could bring to the home. Ads were showing demonstrating some of this promise, including video conferencing for health, large file sharing, music sharing across locations, virtual shopping etc. Would have done better to do reruns of the Jetsons.

One of their libraries was one of the first to roll-out with the NBN and life would all be wonderful. They could just grab stuff from elsewhere and make it work there. To find out what the stuff was, Warren visited 39 people in 23 organisations in 19 days at 5 locations. Talked to Co.Lab in Chattanooga – a think tank to help people make the most of the new fast speeds.

Unfortunately ‘it’ is not already built, which was a common expectation. It is up to us to build our future.

Changing political circumstances means that the situation is changing. NBN Co is rethinking what they are doing and it is likely that it will be 6 to 8 months before we see anything. US experience has shown that libraries need to have a place at the table and that we have to get ourselves there, involved in our government, talking with the telecommunications companies etc.

Partnerships are also important. And they can be with groups that are outside our comfort zone. Watch this site for Jon Gant’s research on this same subject -coming soon.

Urbana Free Library was considered the model by other libraries.  IN a very low socio economic area, with heavy reliance on library resources, particularly Internet. All libraries agreed that there will always be a digital divide and libraries would be the place to go for this access for many years to come.

In USA libraries and schools are the first to be connected, then homes. it is the opposite here. Interesting to see this difference in perspective.

Uni of Illinois has broadband everywhere, yet students still congregate in the library. The library as space is as important as ever. Students consistently used virtual services when the physical equivalents were close at hand.

Chattanooga Library – everything you read is true. They took a floor and filled it with presentations, workshops, dances, training. The content is in the people coming together, collaborating. You can get your hands dirty and do stuff. Where’s the broadband? Dance across the world – with performers both there and in other locations.

The technology will allow us to break down our geographic barriers and share around the world. We need to understand the telecommunication technologies, the politics and commerce, advocate and lobby for access, create and demonstrate our future.

Library of the future – Kiama library and the NBN – Michelle Hudson

64% of the community are members of their two libraries. Kiama only second as an NBN hub by 2 days – behind Townsville. In 2012 all computers and wifi were connected with 1000 hours in the first month.

Developed a digital hub, formed a partnership with Kiama Community College who provided group training. Also provided access to NBN technologies, Sound Domes and videoconferencing. Worked with ALIA and Public Libraries Australia. Digital Enterprise program provides training and facilities for small to medium businesses to help them to provide or improve business online. Digital Local Government program provided platforms and equipment for the community to engage with local government. People could login with their devices to join online Council programs.

Digital Hub program had an emphasis on NBN benefits in health, education, business and at home. Provided training for the community. This program was open to any organisation that served the community – as they had limited resources, the partnership with the college was logical and important. College ran the group training and the library the one on ones. Grant funding enabled them to provide equipment,eg video conferencing, sound chairs, mobile devices and employ staff to conduct training.

Skype now is amazing and instant, with everything working together as it should.

For the launch of the hub, they were hoping to connect to Townsville for a virtual story time, which didn’t happen due to Queensland weather. In the meantime, the story time went ahead with both a physical and a virtual audience who could interact. Needed special permissions for a digital story time, so as not to breach copyright. As it was live streamed so there were no copies and they used local authors reading their own stories. Also needed to be aware of lighting, sound and camera placement.

They worked with the Robot virtual guides at the Australian National Museum to provide virtual tours through the library. Had mental health consultations with Medicare via teleconferencing and some health consultations.

Kiama created a smart phone app of a walking tour of Kiama, working with the Powerhouse Museum, with historical photos,text and oral histories. Available for both Android and Apple.

Over 50% take up by their local residents of the NBN compared to 35% nationally.

Digital Hub program has finished, but they are still working with council on the Digital Local Government program.

Greg Rolan – Monash – Rolling out digital hubs in public libraries: the Mill Park story.

Presenting on research conducted in conjunction with YPRLS, investigating the impact of digital hubs on the role of the public library on local communities.

2008 – 26% of Australians did not use the internet. Mainly low socio economic, aged and CALD communities. 40 digital hubs as of 2014 – half of those in libraries. Mill Park was the first Victorian library to host a hub. This enabled them to buy equipment and employ a full time trainer.

Feedback was sought from Mill Park library users and South Morang residents. 80% were interested in learning more and in attending the library to do so. A range of topics were identified as being of interest. Training has been operating since early last year and has been particularly well taken up by seniors.

Research focused on the role of the library here. Had problems with getting a range of culturally diverse users, but still conducted a range of interviews with staff, users and stakeholders. One advantage of the library is that the library is a regularly used facility by the target audience for this program. The library has safety, longer opening hours and a reputation for trust.

Physical design for the Hub was important and it was designed to be open and non-threatening and not classroom like. The welcoming environment and sense of integration invites return visits and casual enquiries. Organisations embedded in communities act as a connectors with government and with other local community networks, providing social cohesion. The hub has also been a foundation for new digital initiatives, including a Makerspace which includes a 3D printer, robotics kits and more, in a partnership with LaTrobe University.

The inclusion of such programs has improved the vibrancy of the space and they have seen increased membership from program attendees. The most requested training topics has been Windows 8.

Digital hub program has increased user expectation of staff skills. Some staff have already feel stretched, but others have embraced it. In-service training has helped.

Funding end will likely see the end of the current program, although they are keen to continue with it.