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Wednesday, 07 December 2011 11:48

Chinook Arch steps boldly into the future, utilizing the latest technology

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By Susan Quinlan
Southern Alberta
Patrons of the Chinook Arch Regional Library System can now access the library from anywhere using an internet connection from home, office, grocery store or wherever.

“Chinook Arch now has a mobile site and free apps for the Android and iPhone. By using the browser on an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or supported device … patrons can find items, place holds and track borrowing wherever they are,” said Beth Norris, automation services librarian for the Chinook Arch Regional Library System.

Although patrons are now familiar with online access, being able to search the catalogue and order items from hand-held devices presents an added bonus, said Warner Library Manager Andrea Tapp.

“The more libraries can stay current with what’s happening in technology and allow patrons access, that keeps your libraries operating,” said Tapp.

Younger patrons are in constant contact through the internet, checking to see what items are available and reserving those they’d like to pick up, so that group is already actively using this resource, said Tapp.

In addition, reading programs are offered to the parents of toddlers. However, those people in the 18 to 35 age group don’t visit as often.

“They don’t read as much as the very young or the very old; those are the ones this technology will really benefit.”

Anything that makes access easier will hopefully result in higher usage said Tapp.

Susan Torrie, manager of the Barnwell Public Library, agrees. She said online access also has become an important and growing aspect of every library.

“There are more and more patrons looking and putting items on hold.”

Although online service has been in place for a while, the iPhone and Android apps have only been live for about a month.

“Even before doing this, we knew that a number of patrons were connected with iphones and ipads,” said Norris.

Patrons can search and limit results by availability, format, audience or location. They can also manage or reserve library materials they’ve checked out.

The company responsible for bringing high-tech access to the holdings of the Chinook Arch Library System is BiblioCommons, said Norris. It was started in Ontario by an active library user who also happened to be computer savvy.

“This person saw that libraries were struggling with that interface.”

Today, even the New York City Public Library uses BiblioCommons.

As to customizing BiblioCommons for the Chinook Arch Library System, Norris said it’s been an ongoing process where users and staff provide feedback then staff at BiblioCommons tweak the system.

“It’s a wonderful system,” she adds.

To download the free app, go to the iPhone Apps Store or Android Marketplace and search Chinook Arch Mobile.

The Chinook Arch Regional Library system is accessible online at:

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