Pandemic influences the new tech at Bristol library

Library’s tech guru talks about about their new acquisitions — Chromebooks, vlogging kit and an interactive globe

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 9/19/20

From Dewey Decimal to digital, the local library is a center for literacy and learning. For Rogers Free Library tech guru Kristin Amaral — as much as she loves books — much of her focus …

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Pandemic influences the new tech at Bristol library

Library’s tech guru talks about about their new acquisitions — Chromebooks, vlogging kit and an interactive globe

Posted

From Dewey Decimal to digital, the local library is a center for literacy and learning. For Rogers Free Library tech guru Kristin Amaral — as much as she loves books — much of her focus is on researching and mastering new technology that she can then share with the community.

“My philosophy on technology is twofold,” she said. “Firstly, anything we offer has to be educational. And secondly, it is important to me that people can try before they buy. I speak with patrons often about their anxieties regarding purchasing new technology or just operating their personal devices.

“I am always very concerned about the public’s levels of digital literacy. There will always be a gap, because technology is ever-changing and very expensive and of course, comes with a learning curve. And that is one of many reasons the library is critical right now. It’s why we offer free tech help appointments — We don’t want anyone falling behind.”

During the lockdown, Ms. Amaral spoke with or emailed many different professionals, from the technology coordinator at Ocean State Libraries to parents, teachers, and fellow librarians. She asked them what they needed the library to have on hand, compiled a list, and then had the difficult job of making purchases. 

“It was especially stressful managing the technology budget this past year. Generally, we try to purchase items that the general public needs, like printers and desktop computers. We also like to invest in new technology that will draw the public into the library,” she said.

A year or so ago, Rogers Free Library partnered with the Rhode Island Computer Museum to bring in 3D printers and robotic arms, and they were a hit. So they were looking forward to investing in similar, new devices that could be featured in a real hands-on kind of way, for all ages.

“Well, enter COVID, and that plan was tossed out the window,” said Ms. Amaral. “Digital literacy and the uncertainty of the building being closed for the pandemic, helped me decide to invest in more mobile technology.”

They purchased two Chromebooks, both for those students who might not have one or need an emergency replacement, as well as for parents who had commented that they wanted to learn to use Chromebooks without having to experiment on their child’s device. 

“I am especially excited about two items,” said Ms. Amaral. First is our ‘vlogging’ (video blogging) kit. When we went into lockdown, I started to notice a lot of small business owners videotaping themselves speaking to their customers on social media. The quality isn’t always great though, depending on their device.” The library’s new vlogging kit has built-in LED lights and a microphone, so business owners or budding entrepreneurs can record audio and video anywhere on their smartphones.

“I hope business owners continue this video conversation with customers,” she said. “It is a nice touch, and their presence is most welcome on my Instagram feed!”

The library has also purchased an augmented reality globe for children and families. “It is a really simple looking item, but don’t be fooled,” said Ms. Amaral. “Children can use a smartphone or tablet to zoom in on any place in the world to learn about geography, cuisine, animals and more.

“If COVID prevents us from traveling, why not bring the joys of culture into the home? My hope is families will be inspired to read books from our collection to further educate themselves.”

If anyone is interested in borrowing the devices, call or email Kristin Amaral directly at 401/484-8545 or librarian@rogersfreelibrary.org.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

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