(Photo by Flickr user Delaware Libraries, used under a Creative Commons license)
Gone are the days of the Dewey Decimal System.
In Delaware, Sarena Fletcher is helping lead the charge to revolutionize libraries across the state.
"It can grow into something more. It can help them grow professionally or personally and help spark passions."
Fletcher, an administrative librarian with the Delaware Division of Libraries — a government branch which oversees the public library catalog — is helping to bring 3D printers, camera equipment and other emerging technologies to the state’s 33 public libraries.
“A lot of these things, they [library patrons] don’t have at home or work. I want everyone to be able to see them, play with them and practice,” said Fletcher, who has worked with the department for three years. “It can grow into something more. It can help them grow professionally or personally and help spark passions.”
Currently, seven libraries are beta testing any new technology Fletcher can get her hands on. Libraries in Wilmington, Woodlawn, Dover, Georgetown, Laurel, Lewes and Milton have 3D printers, green screens, Nikon cameras and Adobe software, PicoBoards, and coding software.
Three of the libraries — Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown — also have recently launched inspiration spaces. These spaces used to be grant-funded job centers. When funding ran out, the three libraries re-branded their rooms, creating collaborative, creative spaces where patrons can experiment with DIY projects.
“It’s been great. The public seems excited and eager,” Fletcher said. “I really enjoy how Laurel Public Library is printing Braille and doing all kinds of stuff with the 3D printer.”
In addition to new technologies being implemented in libraries across the state, Fletcher is also hoping to unite librarians in another way in 2015. The Division of Libraries is inviting Delaware’s librarians to participate in ILEAD USA: Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover. The program, which Fletcher attended last year in Illinois, cultivates participatory technology and leadership skills.
ILEAD — funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services Laura Bush Grant — was initiated by the Illinois State Library. Delaware is one of 11 partner states in 2015.
“We want to form a team to meet a community need. We’ll meet for a couple of days in March, June and October. We’ll learn how to create a project, make movies, use social media and treat a project like a startup,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said they’re planning to host the conference-style event in Lewes, where the group can leave distractions behind and focus on team building activities. Keynote speeches will be live-streamed from Illinois; local instructors will teach hands-on courses to the librarians in Delaware.
Fletcher said librarians will be working in teams each round. In October, after teams give their final presentations, she said she hopes to see some library teams continue the work they’ve started at each of their own libraries.
“Libraries in Sussex County might be good at genealogy. Libraries in Kent County might be good with GIS,” Fletcher said. “Library staff have different expertise. We want to identify the strengths throughout the state, build on them and share that.”