Here in the Otorohanga District we have been part of the People’s Network for six weeks now.
Computer usage is settling into a pattern which ebbs and flows throughout the day. First thing in the morning we have our regular customers – David from the local support house who loves spending time watching horror movies (with the permission of his supervisor!), Kura who’s working on her extramural studies, an older gentleman who follows form on boxing matches (his son’s a professional boxer) and Jennifer who’s researching her extended family’s land interests.
From around 11.30 am. tourists start coming in (German, English, American – all ages) off the buses that stopover in town after visiting the Waitomo Caves. Naturally, they’re thrilled to be able to check their email for free!
And then it’s after-school and time for the kids! Library assistant Sheila was a primary school teacher in a former life and her crowd-control techniques certainly come in handy. Tips she’s learned include addressing the children by name and closely policing computer start and finish times. Sheila also suggests the children might like to sit on a sunny couch and look at some of the books while they’re waiting their turn (and if they’re not already a library member, now’s a good time to join!).
I guess what I’m saying is that the APN has added another dimension to the day in our fairly small and formerly relatively quiet library. Like others have reported, we’re seeing new people come in who haven’t used the library before.
Yes, we’re also seeing the teenagers who’re meant to be in class. One funny story happened a couple of Mondays ago, when staff were still finding their way over managing APN usage. A group of four younger teens (two girls and two boys), dressed in civilian clothes, came into the library during the morning and, because it was quiet, enjoyed a good hour each on the computers. At mid-day, I suggested they might like to go and find some lunch and they duly left. Unfortunately, however, they returned to the library in the afternoon and were lounging round in the children’s section, reading aloud to each other and generally being silly. Library staff decided to phone the college and a teacher turned up in her car shortly afterwards to collect them. That same teacher came into the library a couple of days later when she was off-duty to choose books with her pre-schooler. She said that it had caused much hilarity in the college staffroom when she reported that she had found the four teens in question in the public library, because they’re not regarded as being a particularly studious bunch!