CHICAGO — The American Library Association has named the "Enriching the Lives of a Challenged Community by Lending Tablets" project at the Queens Library in Jamaica, New York as the 2014 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.
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 committee was impressed with the customized interface for the tablets, which was easy and intuitive to use. The tablets have downloaded, curated content with resources in the area of job readiness, health, immigrant resources and library programs and services. Most importantly, the tablets are useful with and without wifi.
The award committee agreed that the Queens Library has implemented a model that will be useful for other libraries facing the aftermath of similar disasters. Their approach in providing content with and without wifi was very innovative as was their selection of content intended to help members of the community recover from this terrible disaster.
Members of the 2014 ALA Information Today/Library of the Future Award Jury are: Robert R. Newlen, Assistant Law Librarian for Legislative and External Relations, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (chair); Carol L. Anderson, associated librarian, State University of New York-Albany, Albany New York; Richard Terry Chaffin, Head of Instructional Support Services, Washington University, Saint Louis, Mo.; Stacy L. Creel, Assistant Professor, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Angela A. Williams, Librarian, Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
The Library of the Future Award will be presented on, at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The deadline for submission of applications for the 2015 ALA/Information Today, Inc. Guidelines and application forms are available on the ALA website.