ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award
In the fall of 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the shorefront communities in Queens, N.Y. The area was largely economically disadvantaged before the storm. The situation was aggravated by the fact that telecom providers did not rebuild quickly. In 2013, Google donated 5,000 tablets to help the community of seven storm-affected libraries rebuild. (the donation was facilitated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the N.Y. Department of State).
The challenge for Queens Library was that a tablet with full functionality would require wifi - a service that was scarce and not always affordable. Also, the tablets had the potential to create a maintenance burden on the library staff already burdened by operating out of small, interim spaces. The library was, however, very motivated to supply much needed resources to this recovering community.
The Queens Library set out to created a customized interface for the tablets that would be useful with or without wifi access; to make the tablets accessible for beginners; and to provide library-curated content on topics of interest to the community. The result was the "Enriching the Lives of a Challenged Community by Lending Tablets" project.