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In the State Capitol Building today, librarians and legislators are meeting to talk about the completion of the state’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant, a grant that provided more than 100 libraries with computers and interconnected more than a dozen libraries through videoconferencing technology.

The key word in the above paragraph is “opportunities.” Technology by itself is worthless, but when placed in the hands of libraries with staff who can then support the use of such technology, it can become a priceless tool for many, and that’s really the focus: putting the right tools in the right hands, making the lives of anyone who walks in our doors better in some way.

As you may have heard, not all stories in libraries are contained on printed pages; more and more, they’re printed in electrons, and I don’t just mean e-books. Our stories are becoming about enabling the lifelong student to develop a new skill,┬áthe unemployed to find work, or the voice of a grandparent to stretch thousands of miles to reach grandchildren a continent away.

Patrick Therrien, the technology trainer who held more than 120 training sessions across the state over the course of the BTOP grant, tells about one story from a Facebook class for seniors he was presenting. At the end of the training session, one of the attendees spoke to a librarian in passing about his newfound confidence in using the social network, “Now the winter won’t be so long.”


Patrick “Turbo” Therrien at work

It’s not the computer that makes such changes in lives. It’s the knowledge and confidence to use computers and the Internet that these stories are about. BTOP gave our libraries the means by which to create opportunities for others. We are grateful to the grant, but we must also be grateful to the participating libraries for bridging the gap between technology and community.

If your library received a computer or videoconferencing device from the BTOP grant, or Mr. Therrien provided training at your library, do you have an impact story you could share?

By Jared Leadbetter Posted in btop

Techsplorers blog

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Image courtesy of Trey Ratcliff,

Are you a techsplorer? Would you like to be?

In many ways, we’re just starting to explore the world of technology and the opportunities it affords to libraries. Most of us are inexperienced hikers in this metaphor, certainly not inveterate trailblazers, though we might like to be some day. If that’s the case, then you’ve come to the right place.

This blog, presented by the Maine State Library, is intended for the staff and volunteers of Maine libraries. We’re looking to provide technological awareness, vision and advice that’s pertinent to all libraries, no matter the size or budget. Being a techsplorer means you’re willing and eager to take a step to learning something new, or are willing to share your own experience and knowledge with other techsplorers and be a part of helping all Maine libraries explore the future together.

What sort of things can you expect from this blog? To start, we want to create a community, where discussions can be held about topics important to us all. To that end, we may put other libraries and their initiatives into the spotlight. Interviews with leaders in our midst? Absolutely. Opening the floor to technology questions? Of course. We’ve got lots of ground to explore!

Keep the conversation friendly, and let’s see what we can discover along the way!

P.S. : even if you’re not involved with Maine libraries, you’re welcome to participate.