By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
Since 1904, bookmobiles have brought libraries to people who could not travel to the library. Now, in addition to the bookmobile, people in Pike County have access to the technology the library has to offer.
The Pike County Library District unveiled a mobile technology center through the Pike County Public Library District funded by a donation from the EQT Foundation.
The tech center is the brainchild of library district Technology Coordinator Wesley Fleming. He said he had the idea for years, and the Pike Library Board was supportive, but it was an expensive endeavor.
Then ConnectKentucky Executive Director Rene True called the library director and said there was a local company who wanted to furnish a grant for a community project, and thus began the partnership that resulted in the mobile tech center.
Fleming said the center began as a RV that he and Facilities Manager Rusty May converted themselves.
“When we found a used travel trailer close to our price range,” Fleming said. “It had a bedroom, a kitchen and a seating area. We had to take all that out. We worked on it, along with our regular jobs, for at least six months.”
The mobile center has eight laptops, which includes one for an instructor, and satellite internet access. Fleming said the library district was able to purchase satellite services from a library that was no longer going to use it. It was cost cutting measures such as these that made the project possible.
The grant from EQT was $25,000, which covered all the cost of the project.
ConnectKentucky, is an alliance of technology-minded businesses, government entities, and universities working together to accelerate technology in the Commonwealth.
“ConnectKentucky is a leader in developing this capacity and with partnerships with corporate citizens such as EQT, we are making progress here in Southeastern Kentucky. The struggle will never end but the prospects for progress are encouraging,” said University of Pikeville President and former Gov. Paul Patton.
The possibilities for the tech center are virtually unlimited in an area as large as Pike County, Fleming said.
Pike County Public Library District services the largest county in Kentucky. The county provides no immediate public transportation services from community to community. This poses some of the largest problems for community members in the outer-most areas of the county. The multipurpose mobile technology center is capable of providing a training environment, employment assistance, emergency assistance, and serve as a mobile information center to the community at various events throughout the year.
Pike County has suffered several disasters in the last few years stemming from flooding in which the library district provided extra hours of service at the physical locations to assist community members in applying for assistance from FEMA and other community minded organizations willing to help. The library also served as a base station for some of FEMA’s communications needs. The mobile technology will allow the library to reach even more residents with those vital services.
“People will be able to connect and post messages through social media in an emergency situation,” Fleming said. “We could set up at family reunions, so people could use our services to trace their genealogy, there are just so many things we could do.”
He said the library district is asking for ideas from the public on ways to use the mobile tech center. People are asked to email ideas to email@example.com.
“The Pike County Public Library District is excited to have this unique opportunity to partner with EQT to offer our residents access to a multipurpose mobile center equipped with the latest technology and high-speed Internet,” said Director of Libraries Leean Louella Allen. “With the new mobile unit, the residents of Pike County visiting the mobile unit in their area, will have access to a multitude of traditional and non-traditional public library services, including library e-services , technology training, employment training assistance, expanding e-communications with businesses and families, just to name a few.”
“The future of the citizens of Kentucky depends on the adoption of high-tech processes to enable us to compete in a high-tech world,” Patton said.
For more information, visit the Pike County Library District at www.informationplace.org or call 606 432-9977.