Tablet checkout program an indicator of how libraries are changing

By on

by Vanessa Garcia, courtesy of The Amarillo Globe-News

The Amarillo (TX) Public Library has launched a new computer tablet checkout program at two out of it’s five locations, an example of how it is adapting to technology and people’s needs.  “Libraries in general have always been good at adapting to the changing needs of society,” said Stacy Clopton Yates, public relations coordinator for the library. “If you look back at libraries about 100 years ago, you’ll find that they offered what was needed at that time.”

The library recently started checking out Google Nexus 7 tablets for in-library use at the East Branch and North Branch libraries, said Amanda Barrera, director of library services. The two branches each have five tablets to lend to visitors.  “That’s one of the great services that libraries offer, is making sure everyone has access to computers, technology and internet,” Clopton Yates said. “For us, adding these tablets is a way of expanding that access.”

The tablets are available to individuals who have a library card in good standing and a driver’s license or other approved photo identification. Children ages 16 and younger must have a parent present to use a tablet. Tablets can be used up to 90 minutes.  “It’s a great opportunity for people who want to do things online that works really well on tablets,” Clopton Yates said.

If the pilot program goes well at the two branches, library leaders would consider expanding the program to the other libraries, Clopton Yates said.  Yates said there is a number of people who have become “tablet-exclusive users,” and no longer use desktop computers.  “They really enjoy using the tablets,” Clopton Yates said. “We are pleased there are people that find it a good service.”

Jane Holt, head librarian at the East Branch, said children find good use in the tablets. A mother checked the device out for her child while she found books to rent, Holt said.  Other services offered at Amarillo Public Library are e-books and audio books that are downloadable for smartphones, computers or tablets, Clopton Yates said.

“That just gives them a chance to do more reading in whatever format they like best,” Clopton Yates said. “We just want to make it as easy as possible for people to read and learn, and so we take advantage of every advance in technology that we can to help people.”

Libraries across the nation are succeeding in keeping up with today’s technology, Clopton Yates said.  “The internet is so important to the ways that we communicate and do business these days,” Clopton Yates said. “That is very important for everyone to have access to it.”

However, print books are not collecting dust.  “It’s interesting,” Yates said. “We have a lot of people who check out books from our website, but printed books are still the primary way people read, and that’s not just at Amarillo Public Library. That’s across the country.”

Clopton Yates said libraries across the nation have continued to adapt with change.

“Times change very quickly these days and we have adapted to change rapidly as well."  “The core goal for most libraries is to help people be better educated and to improve their quality at life. For libraries, anything that improves that — that makes it easier for people to do — is something we want to be involved in.”