SPLAT Corner: Gizmo Garage

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ICfL’s Gizmo Garage – Closing the Digital Divide, One Device at a Time

By Jezmynne Dene, Director, Portneuf District Library, Chubbuck, ID

Saturday, January 6 from 3-5 p.m. maxed out our fire code capacity in our Idaho Room as we held Portneuf Library’s first Gizmo Garage. The Gizmo Garage is an Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) initiative; there are four Garages throughout the state containing eReaders, tablet computers, and other tech goodies. These Garages are shared with libraries for the purpose of staff training and development and training and service to the public. The Portneuf Library was a lucky recipient of one Garage.

Upon first receiving the Gizmo Garage from ICfL in October, Portneuf Library staff checked out the assortment of tablets and eReaders for a few weeks. Each staff member was expected to play with the device checked out to them, adding apps and connecting it to library materials, in order to learn how the device worked and interfaced with library digital content. After a few weeks, the staff exchanged devices and tried something new. As a result, the majority of the Portneuf Library staff became well acquainted with the operating systems of different devices and established an understanding of how these things connected to library materials. The Portneuf Library, in cooperation with the other Library Consortium of Eastern Idaho (LCEI) libraries, buys 3M eBooks, and independently subscribes to audiobooks through OneClickDigital and movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and music albums through Hoopla. These things are app based, but also accommodate viewing/listening on computers. In order to provide excellent customer service to library users, the Portneuf Library staff needed to learn how to connect these apps on many different devices. The ICfL’s Gizmo Garage enabled the library staff to master these skills with little cost to the library itself.

The library’s first Gizmo Garage was tremendous. Three library staff members helped twelve adults who attended the class. Eleven of the adults brought their own devices they’d received at Christmas, needing to learn how to use the devices and wanting to connect it to library digital materials. One attendee wanted to play with the devices provided by ICfL in the Gizmo Garage, as she was uncertain which kind of tablet she wanted to purchase. The event was very busy as the library staff members helped the users learn how to create accounts, set up settings, download apps, connect emails, and link to library holdings. iOS, Android, and Nook operating systems were brought in by attendees, and all devices left with access to eBooks and audiobooks. The library staff was well equipped to answer questions and assist the attendees because of their experiences learning how to use the devices on loan in the Gizmo Garage.  The event was a huge success, and future classes were requested.

The Gizmo Garages are in your area! North Idaho, Boise, Magic Valley, and SE Idaho all have Garages, maintained by your SPLAT members. Ask your nearby SPLAT member to host a Gizmo Garage at your library today!

See more about Portneuf Library’s Gizmo Garage in the Idaho State Journal at www.idahostatejournal.com/members/keeping-up-with-technology-at-portneuf-district-library-s-gizmo/article_2251ca8a-791a-11e3-a880-001a4bcf887a.html.

The Gizmo Garages are made possible in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.