Skeptical. Doubtful. Unconvinced. These are words that are often associated with taking chances. Luckily for the patrons of Pottsboro Area Public Library, the library and the Operating Board took a chance with Edge in an effort to align their technology services to the needs of the community.
When Edge was initially introduced to Pottsboro Area Public Library in 2014, Director Dianne Connery, then President of the Operating Board, was unsure of how the library could better serve the community through increased technology.
Connery confessed that she first thought Edge would be a spreadsheet with basic statistics and information, not realizing it would give her library a structure and framework around which to plan technology and service improvements.
“What Edge gave us was a direction to go with technology,” she said.
Edge triggered the library to think of ways technology could improve community outcomes. For example, few students in Pottsboro had internet at home. This caused them to spend Sunday afternoons trying to find internet access to finish their homework in time for school the next day.
In response to this need, the library started opening on Sunday afternoons and enhanced their Wi-Fi connection allowing more devices to be connected, and extended the range to allow users to connect from outside of the building. New benches outside of the library allow the entire community to access Wi-Fi 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We want to be recognized as an essential service. If we are viewed as fluff, it would be easy to cut from the budget,“ said Connery. “But when we are providing people with ways to apply for jobs, eGovernment, education, and much more, we’re seen as more important to the community.”
As a result of the library’s continuous impact on the community, the City Manager of Pottsboro asked the library to consider taking on the responsibility of managing IT for the city.
“I believe the reason the city sees us in that role is partially due to the impact Edge has made on the services we provide,” said Connery.
Thanks to a multi-year statewide subscription provided by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), Pottsboro Area Public Library had the opportunity to take the Edge Assessment twice: initially in 2014 and again in 2016. Retaking the assessment allowed the library to demonstrate the important changes Edge helped inspire, reflected in an improved outcome on their second assessment.
Students are not the only ones to benefit from Edge. The improvements made to the Wi-Fi and other technology since completing the Edge Assessment have helped the library meet other community priorities as well.
Additional outcomes achieved through Pottsboro Area Public Library’s use of Edge include:
- Improved privacy and security for computer and mobile device stations
- Creation of a partnership with Texoma Council of Governments and organizations who are reaching out to the library for assistive technology needs
- Establishment of a life skills student program, targeted at students with disabilities
- Increased assistive technology to the library such as mobility keyboards, adjustable desks and chairs, and Jaws (a text to speech software)
After participating in Edge, it is not just Pottsboro Area Public Library or the Operating Board that has benefitted from the decision to take a chance on a first of its kind toolkit. The community is the real winner.
“This push has helped establish our library as a technology leader in the community. We are no longer a book museum for dusty old books,” said Connery. “Edge shows that we really are on the right track.”