I love driving in Colorado – even during the winter months. Especially during the winter months! Yesterday I kicked off the first of eleven site visits to rural Colorado libraries with a drive to the Redfeather Lakes Community Library. It had snowed the day before – and through my front window I took in the beauty of late fall/early winter Colorado.
These network assessments — for the Colorado State Library, and funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — are designed to help libraries have a better understanding of their Internet connections, their local network and associated technologies to continue serving the public with access to computers and the Internet. The assessments will also help libraries understand their connectivity options, as well as ways to make the best use of their technology resources.
The drive yesterday took me back to my roots — years ago I worked for the High Plains Regional Library Service System in Colorado (one of seven regional systems — since replaced by the most excellent Colorado Library Consortium – or CLiC) and I spent many hours logging miles and seeing the beautiful state across the dashboard. Yesterday was like slipping back in time in the best possible way.
Another thing that was unchanged was the warm welcome from library staff — and seeing just how important rural libraries are to the fabric of the community.
My favorite photo is below. Due to the lack of access in the mountains, Redfeather encourages patrons to connect to the Internet whenever they happen to make it into the tiny town. Free wireless access is available from the parking lot – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For some residents, it’s their only option.
Internet access for people in rural areas is an essential part of modern life. Sometimes the library is their only connection to the networked world.