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Technology Plan

The Nantahala Regional Library (NRL) Technology Plan has eight components. This plan describes all of the technologies and technological services our Libraries currently offer to our patrons. It includes the long-term goals and needs that our Libraries might have within the next three years. This technology plan explains how our Regional Library will implement new technologies and services, how it will pay for these, and how the NRL will evaluate the effective use of these technologies and services in the four public libraries which are part of the Nantahala Regional Library. This plan also describes how the NRL will train our staff to use these new technologies so that they will have the necessary skills to help the patrons in our Libraries utilize these technologies.

It is necessary for the Nantahala Regional Library to revise our Technology Plan every three years in order to qualify for the E-rate program. E-rate is a federal program that allows the four Libraries in our Region to receive our local and long-distance phone service and our Internet access at a significantly discounted rate.

Technology Goals and Strategies

Staff Training

Evaluation

Technology Plan for the Nantahala Regional Library, 2010-2013

Date Written - November 4, 2009

Library's Mission Statement -


The Nantahala Regional Library (NRL) provides all residents of Cherokee, Clay, and Graham Counties with a comprehensive collection of materials and resources to aid in the pursuit of information, research, education, recreation and the development of creative capabilities for their leisure time.

Technology Goals and Strategies

In order to meet the information needs of our patrons, the Nantahala Regional Library strives to maintain and acquire the most current technologies. We seek to improve and expand these technologies so that our System offers exceptional materials and services to our communities. Furthermore, the Nantahala Regional Library will continually offer training opportunities in order for our staffs to have the skills necessary to help our patrons effectively use the technologies we provide on a daily basis in our four libraries.

A. Basic Telephone Service

We provide basic local and long distance telephone service in each of the four branches in the Nantahala Regional Library system. The Headquarters of the NRL and the Murphy Public Library have voicemail service. In the future, we want to provide this service in our libraries in Andrews, Hayesville and Robbinsville as well.

B. Internet Access

Each of the four libraries in our Region has Internet access. This access ranges from direct fiber connections to DSL. Recently, our Library in Robbinsville was able to hook into the direct fiber connection offered by Graham County. The Nantahala Regional Library staff will continue to strive to provide the best bandwidth possible to our four libraries and the Bookmobile. Community partnerships and alliances with our local government entities may make it possible to increase our bandwidth in the near future.

Currently the Andrews Public Library (APL) has DSL. Balsam West, a nonprofit organization formed to provide dark fiber in Western North Carolina, has laid fiber optic cable in close proximity to the APL. We had plans to hook this Library into this fiber connection. However, our Internet Service Provider, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, informed us that this fiber connection would not significantly improve the bandwidth in the APL. So we decided against hooking this Library into this connection. This may be a possibility for the Andrews Public Library in the future when fiber optic cable will help to significantly improve the bandwidth in this Library.

Wireless Internet access is currently available in all four of our Libraries. This is important for our Communities where this type of access is not readily available for free. We plan to continue offering Wireless access to our patrons.

C. Computer Hardware, Software and Peripherals

The computer hardware and software provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have allowed our Region to provide our Communities with the latest technologies at a reasonable cost. Moss Memorial Library will receive one computer purchased through Gates grant funds and the Murphy Public Library will receive four computers purchased using these grant funds in the Spring of 2010. Hopefully, we will have additional opportunities to purchase more computers for the Nantahala Regional Library through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Each Library in our Region has personal computers available for our patrons.

It is a constant need for us to provide additional personal computers for our four Libraries. We strive to maintain and purchase additional personal computers and laptops for our patrons. In addition, we will replace old equipment as needed and according to our budget in each fiscal year. All four of our Libraries now have computer labs, which provide additional public access and opportunities for training and instruction for our Communities.

All of the personal computers in the four Libraries which constitute the Nantahala Regional Library have Internet filters. These computers also have the Norton Antivirus software installed on them.

In addition to computer hardware, the NRL needs additional software and subscription databases that meet the professional and personal needs of the people in our Communities.

In the near future, we will purchase scanners and additional printers for the four Libraries in the Nantahala Regional Library system.

For our younger patrons, we want to investigate the possibility of purchasing A.W.E. literacy stations to help with early literacy skills. We also will look into the possibility of purchasing gaming equipment for our middle school and high school patrons to motivate them to explore all of the materials and services our Libraries have to offer.

The NRL has an online presence. We strive to continually make enhancements to our Web site in order to communicate with our patrons and promote our programs and services. We also seek to offer new ways of communicating with our patrons online including blogs and social networking sites.

D. Public Access Catalog

The Nantahala Regional Library has a fairly new Integrated Library System (ILS), The Library Corporation (TLC) version 3.3.5. We went live with it on January 31, 2007. Our ILS meets the minimum guidelines specified by the State Library of North Carolina. This includes but is not limited to our ILS being searchable, showing holdings and circulation information and having a graphical interface. Our long-term goal is to upgrade our current version of TLC to LS 4.2, which may require additional memory for our servers. Another goal is to fully utilize all of the TLC modules that we currently have and also to purchase additional modules in TLC that manage printing and reserve public access computers for patrons.

E. Bookmobile

The Bookmobile has live circulation access in a limited number of areas because of the mountainous region that the NRL is located in. This access is currently provided by Verizon Wireless through an airtime card and a cell phone booster. When access is unavailable, the Bookmobile staff must store circulation data until access is restored. It is our long-term goal to provide wireless Internet access when it becomes more reasonably priced. Another long-term goal is to provide the Bookmobile with a new laptop for circulation purposes.

Staff Training

The Nantahala Regional Library will continue to place importance on training our staff. We currently do not have anyone who has completed the Master Trainer Program. We will have one or two of our staff complete this program so that they can offer training for our staff in the four Libraries in our Region. The NRL Director will establish a baseline of technology skills that current staff have by requiring that they complete the Technology Skills Survey provided by TechAtlas. This survey will inform our strategy for professional development by identifying technology skills that need to be strengthened in our staff training program. Requests from staff will be given consideration as well and will be given priority on our Staff Professional Development Days. Outside consultants may be hired to conduct some of this technology training. These consultants will be hired as needed and with our current funding situation in mind.

The Nantahala Regional Library will continue to offer computer workshops for our patrons. These workshops will be based on patron requests and will take place in each of our four Libraries. We will also continue one-on-one training and assistance that currently takes places in our Libraries on a daily basis. Most of our patron requests are for instruction on the Ancestry.com product and on NCLive resources. We have also had requests for workshops for patrons on how to use EBay and Microsoft Vista. Currently, our Region does not have any computers that have the Windows 7 Operating System. When we do, then we anticipate that we will have to offer assistance and training on this System.

Evaluation

Nantahala Regional Library's Integrated Library System (ILS), The Library Corporation (TLC) version 3.3.5, tracks our patrons' computer usage. Patrons must check out a personal computer through this ILS. By using TLC, our NRL staff is able to effectively measure our patron's computer usage and to calculate the percentage of increase or decrease of their usage over time. Through TLC we are also able to see how many patrons access Nantahala Regional Library's Web site. More specifically, we are able to look at the pages within this site that are accessed most frequently by our patrons. This helps us to evaluate the Web pages that patrons like and those pages that they do not like as much. The pages that patrons do not like can then be re-designed and those pages that patrons do like can help us better promote our programs and services to our Communities. Finally, we also use TLC's Reports module to measure our Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC).

The door counts of the four libraries that constitute the Nantahala Regional Library are used to help our staffs determine the best times within the year to hold computer classes or workshops. Hopefully, our patrons' attendance to these classes will increase during those times in the year when they visit our libraries the most. The attendance of our patrons to these classes or workshops is another evaluative measure that the NRL can use. The Nantahala Regional Library's Director also looks at the attendance of staff when professional development opportunities are offered either online or at one of our Libraries. By looking at the attendance of our patrons and staff, the Director can determine technology classes that are in high demand and those classes that are not. Then, the NRL's Director can plan accordingly.

Currently, the Nantahala Regional Library System cannot measure our patrons' use of our Wireless Internet access. The only means that we currently have of measuring this usage is through a visual count of the number of patrons using this type of Internet access. However, this measure is inaccurate as it only provides a snapshot of this type of usage in a moment of time. Our System hopes to be able to measure patrons' use of our Wireless Internet access in the near future.

Finally, the NRL encourages its staff to evaluate current technological trends, hardware and software. This evaluation helps keep our staff up-to-date and it helps them to provide better assistance to our patrons who have technology questions or need technical assistance. Evaluating current technologies and trends can be done by reading professional journals and attending professional conferences. It can be done by joining listservs that are geared towards technological trends, different types of technologies and technical support for various software products and hardware. This evaluation can also be done by our staff through reading trade magazines that have new technologies and trends as their theme.

***This policy was approved by the Nantahala Regional Library Board of Trustees on November 19, 2009