'Tech Tool Bar' At Cupertino Library Opens Monday

A new project that allows patrons to try eight different tablets, while learning about the library's resources, is being tested in ... where else? The home of Apple.


Have you ever wondered about the tablets that you see people using these days? 

In the city that, after all, is home of Apple, you can now sidle on up to the "Tech Tool Bar," believed to the first of its kind being rolled out at the Cupertino Library only, beginning Monday.

Patrons of the Cupertino Library will be able to try out the latest in these hand-held devices and learn to access the vast digital resources the County Library District provides.

The first devices chosen were those that lend themselves well to e-reading—an apt choice for a library—including: Apple iPad; Apple iPad Mini; Microsoft Surface; Kindle Paper White; the Barnes & Noble Nook; the Kindle Fire; the Google Nexus; and the Sony eReader.

“Think of it as a ‘genius bar on wheels,’” said Mark Fink, Cupertino community librarian. “We have a trained staff of volunteers, and a very snazzy portable display housing the latest tablet computers." 

The Tech Tool Bar, and its trained volunteer team, is believed to be a first in the country by the Santa Clara County Library District, the Cupertino Library and the Cupertino Library Foundation.

To be sure, libraries have been active in helping patrons learn about tablets, from San Diego County, where classes are regularly held, to Naperville, IL, where the librarians have held a "Digital Petting Zoo" to try out different tablets in conjunction with a wireless carrier. The Tech Tool Bar strives to provide a non-commercial resource to help patrons not only try the devices but also learn to use the library on the go, outside of the walls of the building, said Bev Lenihan, a member of the Cupertino Library Foundation board. 

The Tech Tool Bar came to life under the technical leadership of Megan Wong, Deputy County Librarian, Information Technology and Collection Development and a Tiger Team chosen to manage the complex project.

“We wanted to be able to provide people an option to try devices before they buy without the commercial overtones, and also to learn how to access digital library materials,” said Wong.

“It’s truly enabling the community to have the library with them wherever they are.”

Hours of volunteer coverage for the Tech Tool Bar will be: Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m.; Monday, 10 a.m. to noon; Wednesday, 6 to 8 p.m.

Members of the community can drop in or call the Reference Desk to make a one-on-one appointment: 408-446-1677.

In addition, the reference librarians are equipped to assist in locating various digital resources with these ‘smart’ devices. Some volunteers are fluent in foreign languages.

“The Santa Clara Library system is perfectly positioned to take the lead on creative ways to meet community needs,” said Nancy Howe, County Librarian and director for the Santa Clara County Library District. Howe has supported the idea of the Tech Tool Bar since its inception, saying that “it is essential for the public library to put a friendly, helpful, and non-commercial face with the new information technologies that are so rapidly changing our world.”

For further information go to: www.sccl.org, or www.cupertinolibrary.orgwww.cupertinolibraryfoundation.org

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