ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award winner

For Immediate Release
Tue, 03/22/2011

Contact:

Cheryl Malden

CHICAGO - The American Library Association has named Orange County Library system of Orlando, Fla., the 2011 winner of the ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award. This award is presented annually to a library that demonstrates innovative planning and development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting.

The winning initiative was Orange County’s Technology and Education Center, offering 1,200 technology classes each month at 15 locations. In 2010, nearly 50,000 patrons participated in the technology training program. Classes are offered in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole.

Courses fall into three general categories, with classes for people seeking jobs, classes for small business owners and life skill enhancement classes. Job seekers are able to build and enhance their skills for re-entering the workforce or for acquiring technology skills in order to qualify for a better position.

Community residents who are planning to start their own business or who wish to enhance the reach of their business have an array of opportunities from building a business plan, financial management, marketing and website development. Life improvement classes are offered also, from eBay Basics for Seniors, an array of Internet classes serving teens to seniors, introductory overviews of new technologies and tools and Access Florida: Apply for foodstamps, cash assistance and Medicaid. In addition to courses taught in traditional classrooms, Orange County Library System offers courses virtually, live and online, plus self-paced online classes and a rich array of online tutorials.

Course instructors have commented on patron successes. One instructor told of a person who attended Access 2007 classes close to a year ago.

“He was looking for work, and the jobs he was interested in all required Access 2007. Within a few months, he obtained a job in the finance field.  He came to thank me, telling me he got the job primarily because he had taken the Access classes and had the certificates to prove it.” Another instructor spoke of an individual who “took my Resume Writing and online job search class. She was able to complete her resume in class. We reviewed and tweaked it.  She found a job listing and learned how to upload her resume. The company called her cell phone at the end of class and set up an interview with her.”

Patron accolades to instructors and the program tell the other side of the story. “You are doing an awesome job. The teachers are very professional, high quality, patient, knowledgeable and willing to give the extra time for the student. I am very impressed and satisfied. I have taken around 20 classes.” Another patron wrote to compliment a specific instructor: “I want to write in appreciation to a course instructor. He has taught me how to use a computer and to search for what I want. He is patient and professional, and loves and respects his job. I now feel more confident communicating with the world through the computer. Thank you very much.”

"We are very proud to be recognized as a top innovator in the library profession.  It validates the Orange County Library System’s efforts to be a trend setter for the customers we serve. Being honored with the ALA/Information Today Inc. Library of the Future Award speaks to our innovation and adds credibility to our technology training, while instilling increased confidence in our customers. Receiving the award is like a giant pat on the back and inspires us to further innovation,” said Debbie Moss, assistant director, Orange County Library System.

During jury deliberations, one of the jurors commented: “I favor Orange County Library System for two reasons - the impact/extent of their outreach, as well as the very broad nature of what they provide and the real organizational quality which allows for solid replication.” Jury members unanimously concurred.

The members of the 2011 ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award Jury are: Carol Lee Anderson, University Libraries, University at Albany, Albany, N.Y.; Janet S. Fore, Saint Mary’s College, Cushwa-Leighton Library, Notre Dame, Ind.; John G. Jaffe, Mary Helen Cochran Library, Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Va.; Jennifer S. Kutzik, Morgan Library, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.; and   Amy E. Wallace, University Library, California State University-Channel Islands, Camarillo, Calif.

The Library of the Future Award will be presented on Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.  The deadline for submission of applications for the 2012 ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award is Dec. 1, 2011. Guidelines and applicationforms are available on the ALA website.