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Archive for Monday, June 18, 2012

Offline information resources dwindling

June 18, 2012

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Residents without Internet access can still get most information they desire from public agencies. But as the offline population dwindles and online communication tools proliferate, the data gap between those with and without computers is widening.

That means some information is now provided by request only, and some isn’t available at all to those without computers or smartphones.

“Individuals who do not have access to a computer can request information from their school or at the district office, and a paper copy can be provided,” said Leigh Anne Neal, the Shawnee Mission school district’s associate superintendent for communications.

But recognizing the scope of the computer-savvy public it serves, the district has “focused on moving our communication paperless where we can but retaining printed options that go out more broadly on a limited basis.”

Delivered to every home in the district three times a year, “Inside: Shawnee Mission” is an example of the district’s effort to keep patrons apprised of news and events via hard copy. Examples of data exclusive to those with Internet or texting capabilities include board meeting agenda packets and school emergency and weather alerts.

Gordon Davis, an information specialist with the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging, said it relies on frequent mailings and telephone conversations to keep the county’s computerless seniors informed about support services it provides.

“But in today’s world, certain publications and certain information are now only available online,” he said.

That sends many people to the library, where staff can help patrons access online information and, better yet, teach them how to use computers, Davis said. But despite the fact that computers could open whole new worlds for seniors largely confined to their homes, many decline to adapt by dint of resources or resistance to change, he said.

For others, “the library has become the place for people to test something like the Internet, Facebook or ebooks” and then purchase a computer for home use, said Kim Beets, director of the Bonner Springs City Library. It offers 24 computers with public Internet access.

The Johnson County Library system offers 362 computers with Internet access across its 13 branches, said Marsha Bennett, community relations manager. Job seekers are among the many patrons the computers attract, she said, because many employers now accept online applications only. In addition, most state forms required to qualify for and remain on unemployment are completed online.

People of all ages and income levels rely on the Bonner Springs library computers, Beets added. And that information fuels the library’s own communications policy.

“We continue to do a lot of our traditional print stuff, marquee signs, word of mouth,” she said. “There’s probably not anything we put online that we wouldn’t communicate by other means.”

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 3 months ago

Johnson county. 362computers. 13 branches. Equals average 28- per branch. See something wrong with Lawrence library expansion? Lawrence. Needs to spread computers around town. Senior center. Community building. East Lawrence rec center. Prairie park nature center. Another reason for a couple of branch libraries. Downtown expansion is a waste of money. All this talk of retirees coming. They ain't going downtown no wonder Jo co is ahead of Lawrence. Some of the best planners left Lawrence and went to Joco. Lawrence is a training ground and dumping ground for the unemployable . Just look at the Planning dept..

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average 2 years, 3 months ago

Johnson County doesn't really suggest the need for a branch 'system' in Lawrence. Maybe... just on the edge of maybe you could call one branch. JOCO=550,000 people/13 branches = 42,000 people per branch.

Lawrence, 88,000 people, but around a third of them primarily access the KU library system.

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Cai 2 years, 3 months ago

I understand your point here, but you need to understand, a LARGE portion of this city (more than half) has some sort of tie to KU, as either an employee or a student.

Lawrence HAS more than one library, particularly if what you're looking for is computer access. I'm not necessarily arguing against a satellite - particularly if you're arguing for accessibility. But the argument that Lawrence has only one library shouldn't and doesn't stand up.

Additionally, if one were so inclined, there are 3 public use terminals with internet access at Watson library and one at Anschutz library that I know of. It's not stellar access, but you don't have to be affiliated with KU to use them - you just have to get to campus. As another addendum to people that can use the KU library - retirees also get another point of access - the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

All Kansas residents are eligible to use the KU libraries

When you add these libraries, and use average's numbers from above, JOCO has approximately 550k people, 13 libraries. 42k/library.

Lawrence suddenly now has arguably 2 libraries / the non KU affiliates. so ... 2/55k - 60k?

Note that I'm counting all the libraries at KU as ONE library (not the multiple that they are) for many reasons - the limited public access and the specialization of the books everywhere that's not watson being two of them. But they DO exist, they ARE usable by the public, and just because lawrence and KU don't always get along and play nice doesn't mean you can just ignore them as a feasible resource.

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John Kyle 2 years, 3 months ago

move 'away' from "the" quotation marks 'key'. Don't forget to 'take' your "Medication".

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