SPLAT Summer Adventure 2015

The 2015 SPLAT Summer Adventure is in the history books! "What is a SPLAT Summer Adventure?" you might be asking yourself.

SPLAT (Special Projects Library Action Team) was created in 2007 as one of the outcomes of the 2020 Futures Conference held in 2005. Members, who volunteer from the Idaho Library Community to serve at least a three-year term, are "to act in the ‘crows nest’ capacity, searching for innovation, proposing and leading experiments and pilot projects, discovering new opportunities.”

About three years ago, the SPLAT group created the Gizmo Garage which at the time was a collection of tablets, e-readers and other mobile devices to share with libraries across the state. This year the Gizmo Garage transitioned into the Idea Lab. We weeded some of the mobile devices (which we offered to libraries around the state) and then added things like virtual 3-D viewing device, a scanner, and a printer along with Makey-Makey, Circuit Blocks, and Sphero. In addition there are low tech options such as Keva Planks for creation and innovation.

The SPLAT Team decided that in order to get technology into the hands of staff in libraries throughout the state, it would be best to do a one-day outreach program. So for the past three years, a geographic area has been selected, libraries have been asked if they would like a "SPLAT Visit" and voilà! The Summer Adventure was born. SPLAT members gather for one day in a specific area of Idaho and "SPLAT" libraries, working with both staff and patrons to answer questions about technology, set up learning centers and facilitate exploration, and move on to other areas of conversation concerning library operations. The peer-to-peer approach has been wildly successful.

Outcomes have included

  1.  Enhanced comfort levels with technology for both staff, library boards, and patrons.
  2.  Energized staff and patrons in regard to library programming, especially for technology.
  3.  Connected a face with SPLAT and provided a mentor for future inquiries.
  4.  Brought technology to small, rural libraries who might not otherwise have the experience or expertise.

This year's adventure focused on Eastern Idaho. In one day 10 SPLAT members and three drivers touched 15 libraries and over 200 people. Participants observed the functioning (or challenges) of 3-D printers, the Sphero robot, learned about electronic circuitry through Circuit Blocks and Makey-Makey, created and innovated with Keva Planks, performed 3-D body scanning, and observed virtual reality through roller coaster rides and museum visits. One six-year-old's comment about her virtual museum visit, in her most serious, grown-up voice was "Oh My! This is amazing! Oh My! This is amazing!"

For SPLAT members, this outreach raises the awareness of the diversity of Idaho's libraries, their communities, and their challenges, while enhancing leadership skills and strengthening the Idaho library community by extending connections.

A big thank you to all the SPLAT members who participated, to their library directors who let them escape their regular duties for a few days, to the libraries visited for their warm hospitality, and to the drivers who made sure we got to and from the events.

The Idea Lab is now available for check out to any Idaho publicly-funded library (school, academic, public). Ask with your local SPLAT person for more information: http://splat.lili.org/2013-splat-members/ -- Check out the list of items now available in the Idea Lab at http://splat.lili.org/splat-resources/whats-in-the-idea-labs/.