Online tools can bring the public library into the homes of local patrons.
WizIQ uses live multi-way audio/video feed to let people interact in real time. It is an online classroom, where participants and presenters can see each other, write on the same whiteboard, use videos and interact in a chatbox. As such, WizIQ is an effortless way for libraries to engage the community.
The cyber portal leads to the actual door. By making it easy for community members to get involved, the library can engender good-will, provide information and encourage more people to get involved. The more that people feel welcome, the more likely that they are to visit their library and borrow books.
People need an avenue to interact. Often in small towns, people “know” each other, but they never talk. They recognize certain faces but do not know names. In big cities, people might have the same interests as their neighbors and never connect.
Online courses and Facebook groups bring people together who are in disparate geographical locales. There is little chance that participants will ever actually meet. This anonymity often alienates would-be participants, especially elders.
People yearn for the human touch that community libraries provide. A library-sponsored program, on a platform like WizIQ, would help people to work together, learn together and share information with their neighbors.
Who would benefit?
Libraries can more effectively serve the entire community if it allows remote access to programs and courses. Mothers often find it impossible to get out in the evenings. Many people, including teens and tweens, do not have reliable transportation. Elders might have difficulty getting around. Each of these groups would benefit from library programs that they could attend from home.
WizIQ makes it easy for public libraries to:
- Put book groups online– Most libraries have book groups that meet regularly to discuss a text. Why not train the facilitator to broadcast the book group to people at home? With a few clicks, a live audio and video feed can be established and more people can participate in the conversation.
- Broadcast story hour– Staying home with children is one of the most stressful occupations know to humanity. Some days, especially in the winter and with young children, getting to town is too much. Most libraries have a weekly story hour for the pre-school set. When mom desperately needs a break, how wonderful it would be to have the town librarian read her child stories!
- Help kids and teens with homework– Children throughout the community need help with their school work. In the online world, a trusted librarian or volunteer could be on hand at a certain hour in the afternoon to help kids with research or homework.
- Help young people engage in their community– Teen book clubs, social action committees and discussion groups can provide meaningful work for young people after school.
- Broadcast concerts, lectures and events– Libraries often host live music and other events. If they were shared online, more people could participate.
- Hold meetings– Making things happen takes many people working together. Holding meetings is easier online. The board of trustees, finance committee and children’s library could all meet from wherever they are.
- Support adult learners– Libraries support adult literacy and help adults to get their GED. By making it easy to put these programs online, they are more likely to fulfill their mission.
- Document engagement– When a library uses WizIQ to broadcast an event, the event is recorded and available as a file. The file can be put on their web page. The concert is no longer a one-time event, but an archived recording that can be referred to and enjoyed as long as the internet shall live.
- Impress Funders– Funders want to see that a library is a vital and vibrant part of a community. A website that is full of recordings of all of the events that the library hosted will help potential funders to understand all of the good work that a library is doing in its community.
Reaching into the community is fundamental to the mission of libraries
According to “I Love Library,” which is an initiative of the American Library Associations, libraries are places of information that build community, provide access, promote literacy, protect rights, and innovate.
What better way to enhance the work of libraries than by making it easier for patrons to connect?