Centennial Article: Technology

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Despite the library’s age, it has continued to change with the times and to adapt to the new technologies available to public libraries through state grants, through foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and through membership in library consortiums. 


In 2002 a state-approved library grant allowed the Howard County Public Library to obtain a new automated data system for cataloging, researching and controlling library materials.  Secretary of State Matt Blunt, who traveled to Fayette to present an oversized automation grant check for $25,731 to the library on June 20 of that year, explained that automation grants permitted Missouri’s tax supported libraries to upgrade to an integrated on-line library system which complied with national standards for electronic information.  State Librarian Sara Parker was also present at the presentation.


The Library Board has used money from grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and tax revenue to purchase computers and printers for patron and staff use and to keep the automated system running.   Central Methodist University Professor Roger Lembke began serving as a volunteer technology consultant in 2002, a position he continues to fill today.  The library presently has 10 patron computers and three staff computers.  Patrons desiring to use their own computers and other devices may make use of the library’s wireless network.


By February 2007 the library had its very own website – www.hocopub.lib.mo.us.  The site allows patrons to learn about events at the library.   In addition patrons could now access their accounts at the library, could search for books and place holds.   Lembke’s wife Linda serves as webmaster for the site.  In February of 2013 she created a Facebook page - www.facebook.com/HoCoMOPublicLibrary – which she and librarian Chris Kloeppel maintain. 


The year 2012 was important to the library in terms of technology.  The Library Board agreed to join two consortiums – Missouri Libraries 2 Go and Evergreen.  Missouri Libraries 2 Go is a consortium of 89 Missouri libraries which uses Overdrive to allow patrons of member libraries to download e-books, audio books, videos and other electronic materials directly to the patrons’ electronic devices such as Nooks, Kindles and computers.  Kloeppel offers clinics to help patrons use Missouri-Libraries-2-Go services.


By joining Evergreen the library obtained access to a less expensive and more comprehensive data system for the library.  Library patrons can check their accounts on-line and renew books without leaving home.  They have access to library materials from all 20 member libraries.  These materials are delivered to the library free of charge.  The Evergreen service helps the library staff to complete routine tasks like checking materials in and out, preparing reports and cataloging library acquisitions.