The Arapahoe Library District’s (ALD) recent technology fair, Tour de Tech, left the public talking tech—and about libraries as community hubs for difficult-to-access technologies. The open house–style fair, held Saturday, May 17 at ALD’s Southglenn Library in Centennial, Colorado, highlighted the District’s variety of technology offerings, services, and gadgets, and generated a lot of exciting reactions from those who attended, including “great to see the library in the 21st century,” “it’s like a Star Trek convention,” “have more events like this one,” and “this was mind-boggling for the tech impaired.”
Tour de Tech featured interactive demonstrations in the latest technologies, encouraging patrons to try out the Oculus Rift, 3-D printer and Google Glass. Numerous booths offered giveaways and hands-on help from experts, such as Hoopla, OverDrive, Playaway, Gale Courses, Engineering for Kids, and many others.
The event successfully attracted library users and non-users, and offered the public a glimpse into the changing landscape of libraries. Of the patrons who filled out an evaluation, 70 percent had never attended a library event before. “ALD is redefining libraries as warehouses of information to evolving centers where patrons can experience and use cutting-edge technology,” said ALD Executive Director Nicolle Davies. “Libraries are portals to the latest information—and offering access to technology is the newest version of that role.”
A highlight of Tour de Tech was Southglenn’s new creative makerspace, The Studio. With room for more than 20 patrons to create individual masterpieces, The Studio at Southglenn is currently the largest creative space available through ALD, with a large green screen and ample room for beta technology demos. Like the Studio at Smoky Hill Library, also in Centennial, Southglenn’s soundproof space features the latest music and video production and editing equipment and software, a keyboard, a guitar, and other technology.
Attendees were also offered free yogurt from Yogurtland and a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, a Sony eReader, or a GoPro camera. Patrons were encouraged to bring along their devices and leave with ebooks, e-magazines, and audiobooks, along with many tips and tricks for accessing the library’s digital resources.
This year’s fair was ALD’s second ever Tour de Tech, scheduled due to the popularity of the inaugural tech fair at Smoky Hill Library in 2013. While the event began as a way to promote Smoky Hill’s new Studio, it quickly grew into an all-hands-on-deck showcase of the technology resources the Library District has to offer.
Throughout the year, ALD hosts a number of technology-related events, including “Tech Roadshows,” in which the District presents hands-on technology demonstrations at various community events. In addition, patrons can reserve a one-one-one consultation with a librarian to try out the Oculus Rift, 3-D printer, or Google Glass through the Book a Librarian service. ALD serves 250,000 patrons and includes eight community libraries in Arapahoe County, Colorado.
Ginger Matson and Marcie King are communications specialists with the Arapahoe Library District, serving Arapahoe County, Colorado.
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