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November 2006

Taking the training wheels off

Reduced funding for technical assistance is a reality for many libraries, even as increased demands are placed on them. Even small branches are being faced with greater demands to care for their own infrastructure. Still, nobody can be expected to become an expert overnight, so what can be done to help libraries learn to help themselves?

One system in the Texas panhandle has devised an innovative plan for walking their branches through this process.

Using community volunteers for technical support

I recently spoke to a librarian in Oklahoma whose technical support comes almost entirely from a community volunteer. Other libraries I have spoken to rely on high school interns to provide technical training and support.

She said, "We have a former board member who has been with our library since we started in our technology process. He volunteers and donates his time to do any of our technology projects. He’s wired our building and things like that…we have wonderful donated tech support. He has saved us so much money…I’ve really been blessed with our wonderful board. And we have a great little Friends of the Library group that may be able to get us some more computers."

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