Aotearoa People's Network

Kaikohe Library: Optimised for Wi-Fi

Sabine Weber-Beard, Kaikohe Library
Sabine Weber-Beard, Kaikohe Library

When a library gets free APNK Internet this can have a profound effect on the customers and staff of that library. It can affect how busy the library is, what sorts of people visit it, and in many cases, how the library space is used.

We're always interested to hear how library communities (that's the staff AND the customers) find ways to work through these changes and challenges and lately we've been impressed with how the staff at Kaikohe Library in Far North District have tackled the changing needs of their customers, who are now keen Wi-Fi users. Sabine Weber-Beard, Acting Branch Librarian at Kaikohe Library explains why they had to do a bit of tweaking to their library layout recently.

Kaikohe is not a very wealthy town and many people have no internet connection in their homes. When we first got the APNK PCs and the wireless network there was barely anyone using the wireless internet... Now more and more people come in with their new bought small laptops to do their studies and we have people sitting on the outside park bench with smart phones. The APNK PCs are booked out solid and we only give them 30 min a day per person, so the wireless internet gives people who really want to do more a chance to do that.

We were not really set up for wireless users. No dedicated desks or spaces. The building itself is not new, so all the power points were in really awkward places.

This caused problems in several areas with power cords for laptops creating tripping hazards and competition for table space creating animosity amongst the library patrons. Sabine says,

...traditional library borrowers felt powerless and frustrated with the Wi-Fi users. We really needed to make some changes to accommodate all.

Wifi users at Kaikohe Library

Kaikohe laptop users at the 'Wi-Fi table'

So they did make changes.

The old, awkwardly placed power outlets were blocked off by electricians and power cables were rerouted through a newly-cut hole in the floor where there are now 8 power points. These sit under a large WiFi-users table that has room to seat 8 people. In addition older shelves were replaced with more compact, moveable shelves and display racks and moved to allow enough space around the table for both book browsing and web browsing. And it's been a very successful exercise.

These 'slight' changes have up-lifted the whole back area of the library and it has been a huge success for everybody. The wifi table is busy all day, the newspapers can be read in peace and research can be done too. There is also no OSH issues at all, as the cables are all neatly under the table now.
...the space is just used more efficiently now
.

We had huge positive feedback from all different library users and I really wish I would have thought of something like that earlier.

We're happy to see that the new layout is making for a more harmonious environment in Kaikohe and would love to hear of what other APNK sites are doing to make sure the library space works for customers - whether they're using the analogue or the digital. If you have a similar story to share email peoples.network@dia.govt.nz

Date: 
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

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