By Mark Riffle, Technical Services Supervisor
April 14th, 2017
Sometimes visible, sometimes behind-the-scenes, online access technologies are integral to today’s Estes Valley Library and the needs of our patrons. Visit the Library and you’ll find patrons accessing wired computers for work, business and personal needs. Increasingly, you’ll find folks accessing Wi-Fi on mobile devices, sometimes after-hours right outside library walls.
The Library is a hot-spot hub for information and communication access. Yet our services depend upon, and are woven into, the much larger technology structure of our Estes Valley (and beyond). All our computer connections travel to and from us through the very same fiber-optic cable that serves our schools, our city government, and counterintuitively, even our cellular phones.
The Library exists far beyond our physical walls. While our print collection contains 40,000 items, another 300,000 items are now being enjoyed by patrons accessing our digital collection through their library card. Accessing that immense collection of digital books, magazines, audiobooks, downloadable music and movies all depends on quality Internet service. Essentially, the Library exists everywhere in our valley. High-quality broadband will ensure everyone can access the Library where and when they need it.
The Library is working to fulfill a series of exciting objectives, all based on what our community has asked us to do. The success of these objectives will be enhanced through developing greater technology infrastructure with broadband at its core. Three of our 12 major service goals are vitally linked to that infrastructure: Connecting to a Digital World (technical literacy); Visiting Your Comfortable Spaces (public and virtual spaces), and Expressing Creativity (creating and sharing digital content).
Connectivity has become increasingly important in our lives. Communications with family and friends through voice, pictures and video would not happen without our broadband connection. During a crisis, connections with the outside world become even more critical. The arrival of food, medical assistance, and rescue relies on our ability to inform the outside world about our needs. A reliable broadband connection gives us the ability to inform the authorities and our loved ones, whether we’re fine or needing assistance.
Reliability is key to our comfort and safety in considering what’s best when building our valley’s broadband access. One vital component of a reliable connection is redundancy. Our Estes Valley needs to develop at least one, or more, additional physical routes for communications. Cell phone calls and email now rely upon vulnerable cables hanging from poles or running underground. More than one cable should be working for us. Rest assured, a multi-agency Estes Park coalition has taken on this challenge. “Broadband” isn’t just about access; it’s ultimately about safety and confidence.
The Estes Valley Library relies heavily on fast, reliable broadband because increasingly our patrons require it. The American Library Association says it well: “Libraries provide essential services to the public through equitable public access to information and telecommunications services. All types of libraries—public, school and academic—need affordable ‘big pipe’ broadband connectivity to meet the ever-increasing needs of library users.”