MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

June 3, 2012

Technology a challenge for library

Computers, other tech not readily fitted into aging facility

Meeting technological demands is hard in a 40-year-old building, but Muskogee Public Library workers do what they can, said Head Librarian Jan Bryant.

“The way we have our computers set up, it’s like cordwood, one on top of each other,” Bryant said. “There’s no space for private space.”

Running computer cable and fiber optics through the ceiling also has been a challenge, she said.

“We have wires hanging down all kinds of poles,” Bryant said, explaining how public access computers on the second floor “are all right in the middle of things.”

People bringing their own laptops or technology have had problems finding electrical outlets, she said.

The library has a SMART Board, an interactive digital “chalkboard,” but no place to mount it permanently, Bryant said. “We could move it, but it is a mammoth size.”

The children’s area also has posed a problem for technology, Bryant said.

“We have do make do with what we have,” she said.

Even though problems exist, the library has moved into the digital age in several ways.

For example, the library soon will start offering e-books that people can download on their tablet computers or electronic readers. Bryant said the Eastern Oklahoma District Library System is contracting with OverDrive, a distributor of digital content. She said Muskogee and other EODLS branches could provide access to the e-books in July.

Bryant said she did not know details on how the e-books would work.

Last fall, Muskogee High School began offering some e-books students could check out on computers. MHS librarian Jennifer Kilgore said students could check out books for a certain length of time.

“If a book is overdue, I can call the student and ask if they need more time,” Kilgore said. “If they take to long, I can make the book come back.”

Kilgore said the e-books are growing in popularity at MHS.

Muskogee Public Library offers digital access through its website, Bryant said. She listed all sorts of links from the website.

“Students can get homework help with a live tutor online,” Bryant said. “On JobNow, people can research reference materials related to jobs, and submit their resumes for critique.”

“There’s a foreign language program, Mango. People not only can learn French, Spanish or German, but also Farsi, Chinese,” Bryant said.

The library’s genealogy area also offers high-tech help, genealogy department director Nancy Calhoun said. For example, the department has a device that scans microfilm, microfiche, camera negatives and photographs into a computer.

“You can print it out on paper or email it to yourself,” Calhoun said.

The department also has computer access to early archives of Muskogee area newspapers. The computerized archives include copies of the Muskogee Daily Phoenix from 1901 to 1929 and the Muskogee Times-Democrat from 1906 to 1923, Calhoun said.

People can access old military records, Dawes Roll records and Guion Miller Roll records through a Fold3 program in the department, she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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