According to a 2013 ALA survey, almost all U.S. public libraries now offer online and in-person homework assistance?. In rural areas, this service is especially important because the library offers high-speed broadband access that many homes can't afford.
Urban areas have their own challenges that also include lack of Internet access. We decided to have a look at what is working well — and not so well — in the world of library homework help programs.
Pew Research finds that 54 percent of teachers say all or almost all of their students have access at school to the digital tools they need to be academically successful, but just 18 percent say the same is true for their students at home. The Miami Herald recently reported on how critical the Miami Dade libraries are in addressing this need.
Last month in our newsletter, we asked our members how they collected Wi-Fi statistics at their respective libraries through a short survey. This month, we're excited to share those results with you!
A Quick Breakdown of the Numbers:
Before we delve into the results, a quick caveat: this is in no way a broad representation of how libraries gather statistics. There was a total of 27 respondents to our survey, so we can't draw any general conclusions about how libraries gather statistics, but there is still plenty of advice we wanted to share with other libraries.
Fifty-nine percent of our respondents said that they do collect Wi-Fi statistics.
When we asked how they collected statistics, 31 percent of our respondents said that their Wi-Fi hardware has a built-in tool that gets the job done.
But the largest category of respondents, 47.6 percent, answered that they used a different tool than what we listed (see pie chart below).
No matter where they're located, libraries help patrons navigate information about housing, employment, counseling, health, and other important human services. To support making these connections for their communities, libraries have been exploring new tools, programming, and staffing options.
For example, larger libraries, such as the San Francisco Public Library, have hired full-time social workers as part of their staff. The Santa Cruz Public Library, a smaller library, has a community information database.
In our April webinar, TechSoup for Libraries partnered with our friends at WebJunction to hear about how three libraries of varying sizes use social referral services, resources, and programs to support their communities. Our guest speakers were:
- Suzanne Moore of the Ashe County Public Library in North Carolina (a TechSoup member!)
- Diane Adams of International Falls Public Library in Minnesota
- Jasmine Africawala of Dallas Public Library in Texas
The wonderful thing about these programs is that they can easily be adopted by other libraries — both large and small.
This post originally appeared on the TechSoup blog. The Natalia Veteran's Memorial Library has to make hard decisions about how to meet its community's needs on an extraordinarily limited all-donation budget. Here's how the library does it.
The Natalia Veteran's Memorial Library serves the small town of Natalia, Texas. It's open 25 hours a week, with a staff of one. With extremely limited resources, librarian Amy Edge must make difficult decisions every day about what her library can provide. Whenever she's making those tough decisions, she asks herself which option will do more to improve the lives of Natalia residents.
Last year was our first summer launching Range, an app that helps libraries, community leaders, and other trusted referrers locate free summer meals for youth.
We learned a lot. We learned who really used Range and how referrers shared information with youth and families. We learned that public librarians tended to print our posters to share Range with their community, we learned that food bank staff were using Range to refer youth and families to free meal sites, and we learned that app users wanted Range to also include information about safe places for youth.
And because we know libraries, we knew they were the perfect safe place.
Ten years ago, I started my current public library job in Takoma Park, Maryland. Soon after I started the job, several Hurricane Katrina refugees arrived at my public library. It's scary to lose your entire city to a hurricane. When you show up in a new city, it's vital that the people you meet welcome you as valued members of their community.
One of these refugees, Desiree, was a wheelchair user. When she asked me for help in obtaining a donated computer, I put her at the front of my list of waiting recipients. When a donated Dell desktop came in, I set it up for her in her apartment and told her to contact me when it wasn't working.
Over the years, I visited her apartment to provide tech support, but I didn't feel the burden of tech support as being heavy – until she obtained a Google Chromebook.
One of the (many) things I love about the library community is how active it is on social media. I use Twitter both personally and professionally and have discovered a wealth of information through library-related hashtags.
Hashtags were developed by Twitter as a means to build community. In technical speak, hashtags are a form of a metadata tag. When you put a "#" in front of a word, it gets tagged and is searchable on the platform in which it is used. Hashtags were started by Twitter, but are now supported by Facebook, Instagram, and Google+.
Whether you operate your library's official Twitter account or are looking to connect with and learn from with other librarians via your personal account, there's a library hashtag out there for you.
Walking towards the Castro Valley (California) Library, the first thing I noticed was the flowers. The second thing was the frogs. Seriously. Extremely loud frogs.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.