Edge Leads to Improved Connectivity and Digital Services for Calaveras County Library

Calaveras County Library 
San Andreas, CA
Population: 44,840
Director: Nancy Giddens

"Edge has been the catalyst for saying 'look these things are possible - if we can get this, then we can do this.' It has provided the library with a starting point for discussions that focus on improvements for the entire community."

- Nancy Giddens, County Librarian, Calaveras County Library 

As a relatively new public library director, County Librarian Nancy Giddens quickly identified ways to more closely align Calaveras County Library with its mission for the community. After using Edge, these improvements became even clearer. 

Giddens was introduced to Edge by the California State Library, which supported participation for all public libraries in the state through the purchase of a statewide subscription. She learned more about Edge while attending the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Conference.  

“Edge has been the catalyst for saying ‘look these things are possible – if we can get this, then we can do this.’ It provided the library with a starting point for discussions that focus on improvements for the entire community,” she said.

Around the same time, Giddens received a call from the California State Library about an opportunity to further help improve existing technology, programs and services. Califa, a nonprofit library membership consortium that represents 220 libraries in California, was offering a $90,000 grant that would allow the library to purchase wireless cards, wireless access points and to cover the installation costs for broadband at five branches. 

The library used Edge to plan upcoming improvements made possible by the grant from Califa, resulting in a springboard for conversations around additional funding and new partnerships. 

“When requesting additional money from our board, I used the Edge Assessment to show things we want to do and things we currently cannot do. I shared improvements the library could make for groups like seniors and veterans, but also how the library could better support students and everyone else,” she said. “I presented at several board meetings to show our progress and our work based on the Edge Benchmarks.”

According to Giddens, the excitement about the improvements quickly spread throughout the county administration. 

“It has been important for us to have the board of supervisors and county departments be part of the Edge process. With improved technology and access, we are better equipped to help other county departments, enabling them to improve their community partnerships and services,” she said. 

Calaveras County Library built a stronger partnership with the county IT department, resulting in support for the library’s work with Edge. This enabled the library to understand what it can accomplish with better connectivity.

“The county IT department is excited about the broadband funding and our work with Edge,” said Giddens. “I’ve also been sharing with the county administration what the library will be able to offer with the improved broadband as part of our goals from using Edge.”

While the library works with the county IT department and county administration to finalize its upgraded website, Giddens focuses on how the improvements will benefit the communities it serves. 

“Edge has given the library ideas and resources to better serve patrons by having us think about the Edge Benchmarks and focus on improving the digital services for the community,” she said. “For example, we are working with the Social Security Administration and the California State Library to advise on links for content that will be useful to the community. We’ll also add links to our website regarding online job searches, job skills and digital literacy training.”

Giddens presented what the library will achieve with improved broadband and additional funding based on its Edge Action Plan to local schools, senior groups, business associates and the Rotary Club as possible partners.

“We have high school students that help us with technology tutoring and mentoring. Additionally, our adult mentoring classes do a lot of work with digital literacy,” she said.

As a rural library, Calaveras County Library used the Edge Peer Comparison Report to see how its Edge Assessment Results ranked among libraries of similar sizes serving similarly sized communities.

“With the Peer Comparison Report, Edge shows your results compared to your peer group which is encouraging. It shows where you need to improve and where you are currently doing well,” she said. “Edge shows that you don’t have to compare apples to oranges, because you are not an orange. But it still lets you see how the oranges are doing in addition to your fellow apples.” 

With improved broadband and Edge as a guide to make improvements to its digital services for the community, Calaveras County Library serves as an example of libraries evolving to better meet the needs of the people served.

“Edge has given me a platform as I move forward to ask for help from the county and other potential partners,” said Giddens. “For example, the genealogy group is waiting for us to improve our bandwidth so that we can partner with them for programs and services for the patrons. Edge has given us a broader look at who can benefit from digital library services.”