Anoka County piloting ‘Library on the Go’ program

By Eric Hagen – ABC Newspapers

The Anoka County Library and several partners want to make print and electronic books easier to access around the county and a $117,389 grant will make this possible.

According to the Anoka County Library, a variety of kiosk services will be provided at the Ramsey Municipal Center, the Andover YMCA/Community Center, University Avenue Elementary School in Blaine and the Mississippi Branch Library in Fridley.

3M Discovery Terminals will be installed at the Andover YMCA/Community Center, Ramsey Municipal Center, University Avenue Elementary School and Mississippi Branch Library as part of the “Anoka County Library on the Go” pilot program being implemented by the Anoka County Library system.

3M Discovery Terminals will be installed at the Andover YMCA/Community Center, Ramsey Municipal Center, University Avenue Elementary School and Mississippi Branch Library as part of the “Anoka County Library on the Go” pilot program being implemented by the Anoka County Library system.(Photo courtesy of 3M)

This pilot project is being called “Anoka County Library on the Go” and equipment will begin showing up at these locations around early March, according to Marlene Moulton Janssen, director of the Anoka County Library system.

“By doing this, we’re attempting to extend access beyond our traditional walls, advertise that we do have 24/7 access already if you have a computer at home or access to a computer at work and the libraries are going to continue to be there for you in the future as people’s needs change,” Janssen said.

The money originated from the federal government’s Institute of Museum and Library Services agency, but was distributed by the Minnesota State Library Service. The grant will be focused on increasing the library’s virtual presence.

Janssen said the Anoka County Library will also be contributing $200,000 from a non-operational fund to provide more convenient access to the traditional print versions of books.

E-books and tablets

Janssen said while the Anoka County Library Board feels physical materials are still an important component of the library’s mission, it must think about meeting future needs of readers.

The Anoka County Library has already gone virtual. It began offering e-books in January 2011 and has training seminars.

The Ramsey Municipal Center, Andover YMCA/Community Center, University Avenue Elementary School and the Mississippi Branch Library will all receive a 3M Discovery Terminal, according to Janssen.

This device stores more than 200,000 titles from more than 300 publishers that library users can check out and read on multiple electronic devices.

The way it works is the user must first download 3M’s Cloud Library app to their smartphone, PC, tablet or e-reader. It does not work with the Kindle e-reader. If you stop reading on your PC at home and want to continue where you left off on your e-reader while away from home, the Cloud Library app will bring you to the page you last read.

If somebody cannot afford an e-reader or are unsure they want to read a book or magazine on a computer screen, this grant enables more people to try it out.

Janssen said it can be more difficult for children to get access to electronic material when they live in homes where English is not the first language or the household income is lower. About 30 percent of students at University Avenue Elementary School fall in the English as a second language (ESL) category while approximately 70 percent are on free or reduced lunch, according to Janssen.

The school will receive 36 3M e-readers, valued at $150 each, along with $8,000 to purchase e-books that would be appropriate for elementary students.

According to Janssen, once the library purchases the books, they would be available to every child in the county. The school is the one doing the shopping, however.

A laptop that a teacher can use to download the e-books to the e-readers will also be given to the school.

LeAnn Clauer, a media, teaching and learning specialist for the Anoka-Hennepin School District, said while the University Avenue students have access to the school library each day, not all of them have been to a public library so this is an opportunity to learn about the value of the public library and the resources it has.

Having e-books is just another way of presenting the material. Whether they prefer to read from a book, magazine or electronic tablet, the main goal is to get the kids to read, she said.

“Getting kids to read is one of the greatest predictors of success,” Clauer said.

Andover, Ramsey and the Mississippi Branch Library in Fridley will each receive Tech Logic Media Surfer tablet vending machines that will hold Google Nexus 7 tablets, Janssen said. Tech Logic is a White Bear Lake company.

These three locations will have different targeted users and check-out processes, according to Janssen.

In Ramsey, Janssen said you must swipe your library card and credit card before the machine dispenses the tablet. If you fail to return the tablet in time, your credit card is charged the full price of the tablet.

For the past two years, the Andover YMCA has hosted an after-school program for kids to have a place to work on their homework with the assistance of tutors. They most recently have averaged 60 students a day, according to Jessica Krueger, youth development director for Andover YMCA.

Youth First Community of Promise hosts after school programming of its own at the nearby Oak View Middle School but also stops by the YMCA, so it will be able to utilize the equipment as well.

Kids in the YMCA’s summer programming will also have access to the tablets.

Janssen said the supervisors of the YMCA programs will be responsible for checking out and checking in the tablets. The YMCA will also be given $5,000 to purchase e-books for this location.

In addition to having access to e-books, Janssen said the Anoka County Library is rolling out a new program in January that would allow library users to download electronic magazines through the Zinio app, which will be available on these Google Nexus 7 tablets.

While some students have their own laptops, iPads and other mobile devices to access the Internet at the Andover YMCA, not everyone has this equipment and, of course, not everyone has an e-reader that can access reading material, Krueger said.

“The students are extremely excited,” she said. “It gives an opportunity for everyone to have access.”

The Mississippi Branch Library in Fridley is an older building and does not have the capability to add more desktop computer workstations, according to Janssen.

The Google Nexus 7 tablets will essentially serve as additional computers, which may not be checked out of the library.

Traditional print books

Andover and Ramsey have no county library within their borders, so these residents drive to locations such as the Rum River Branch in Anoka or the North Central Branch in Ham Lake.

Library users will be able to request books be sent to lockers at the Andover YMCA/Community Center and the Ramsey Municipal Center so they do not have to drive further to a traditional library. An access code to get in a locker would be emailed to the person making the request when the books are available. (Photo courtesy of Julie Trude)

Library users will be able to request books be sent to lockers at the Andover YMCA/Community Center and the Ramsey Municipal Center so they do not have to drive further to a traditional library. An access code to get in a locker would be emailed to the person making the request when the books are available. (Photo courtesy of Julie Trude)

Janssen said people will be able to go to the county library website to request a book by using their library card. Once the book is available, the library will email a notification and the person can go to their chosen location to pick up the book from a locker. The email will include a code to open the locker.

Book drop boxes at these two locations will allow people to return the books to these satellite library sites.

A quicker way to get books at these locations will be from a vending machine. The library will stock these machines with best selling paperbacks that people can check out by using their library card.

“All people who use this area will have convenient access to the library that they haven’t had before,” said Ramsey City Administrator Kurt Ulrich.

Ramsey has a new Northstar commuter rail station attached to the municipal center. A luxury apartment and townhome units and the Ramsey COR commercial district are all in the area where this new mobile library will be located.

 

Contact Eric Hagen at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com 

 

What each location will receive around early March:

 Andover YMCA/Community Center

• 3M Discovery Terminal

• Book vending machine, lockers and drop box

• Tech Logic Media Surfer tablet dispenser

• $5,000 worth of e-books

 

Ramsey Municipal Center

• 3M Discovery Terminal

• Book vending machine, lockers and drop box

• Tech Logic Media Surfer tablet dispenser

 

University Avenue Elementary School

• 3M Discovery Terminal

• 36 3M e-readers and one laptop

• $8,000 worth of e-books

 

Mississippi Branch Library

• 3M Discovery Terminal

• Tech Logic Media Surfer tablet dispenser

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