The 3D printer while printing a handsfree door handle at the Granisle Public Library. (Submitted/Houston Today)

Granisle Public Library’s tech haul to help community, especially seniors

The library is putting the provincial technology grant towards exciting projects

Granisle Public Library is pulling all stops to make technology more accessible and available to its patrons and community members, through a provincial grant they received this year.

Earlier this year, the BC government announced a $3 million one-time grant for public libraries in the province to enhance their digital services and resources. Granisle Public Library was one of the many libraries that received this tech grant and has since been making use of the grant to bring a variety of services ranging from e-readers to 3D printers for its patrons.

“Covid has restricted the access of so many of our locals, and it has just been such a long period of time. We are trying to offer them a tiny bit of relief so they can do and see something different beyond their four walls,” said Rees, adding that while most libraries have to use the grant towards upgrading their existing computers or updating their wifi, Granisle Public Library gets internet, wifi and hotspot access through their municipality which leaves their budget free for bringing in technology for its patrons. “We are most fortunate that we are able to put it towards technology and especially for seniors with mobility issue, technology can get scary. But technology can be fun and enhance your life and we just want to take the fear out of the tech. “

The library purchased a 3D printer with the grant and has now collaborated with the Tyree Parkin, the Granisle Community Paramedic, to print and distribute handsfree door pulls and mask straps.

“We came up with the idea of printing mask straps and door pulls because Granisle is mostly senior population and wearing masks can be difficult for seniors especially around the ears. We are also now getting into the sweater and jacket season and a lot of the time people pull their jackets over their hands to pull doors and they can’t really wash their jackets and sweaters as frequently and this alternative makes it much better,” said Lisa Rees, the library director.

The library would be dropping some of these mask straps at the Burns Lake Hospital and at the Tatchet reserve as well. Patrons can also stop by the library to pick up the door pulls and mask straps.

The library has tablets for children with pre-programmed educational programs as well as headphones. There are iPads for adults and also an eReader which the patrons can borrow from the library to read e-books. The library is also looking to purchase a sound system for their backroom where seniors can sit in a socially distanced, safe space and listen to audio books with wireless headphones.

Additionally, the library has an Alexa Show for seniors especially those with mobility issues. They can learn how to use Alexa to get simple tasks around the house done, like turning on and off of lights, turning on coffee pots etc.

“We will also be offering them if they would like to book time to video call family because they can’t visit so this way they can still see their loved ones. I will set it up in the backroom for privacy and we will do it during non-library hours, so they can sit at the end of the building and privately have conversation with their family,” she said.

Rees also said that the library will soon be making virtual reality glasses available.

“Lot of our Snowbirds didn’t leave this year because of Covid so they are missing the travel and we are thinking with the Occulus Quest Virtual Reality glasses, they can come into the library and use the glasses to go anywhere in the world. It is 3D so it is like you are really standing in the middle of the Sistine Chapel or something. It is amazing! Another program we are putting on there is Tai Chi. So if they want to stay mobile during winter, they can come here and do Tai Chi with the virtual reality app,” said Rees.

Currently the library staff is learning how to use the VR gear themselves so they can eventually guide the patrons.

“We are just trying to make things easier and make the technology work for the locals which is the whole point of the grant,” said Rees.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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