Down on the carpet—parts, tools and blueprints laid out—the children carefully assemble the pieces. They’re at the Kimberley Public Library but their activity isn’t book-related. Rather, they’re building do-it-yourself computers.
The workshop was held in partnership with the Kimberley Youth Action Network and made possible thanks to the library’s recent high-tech purchases. These computer kits are just one component of its new mobile tech-enabled space, comprising equipment for younger tech explorers, laptops, creative software, virtual reality equipment, photography and video cameras and soon a 3-D printer—all accessible to anyone, for free. The library will also offer programs to help people use the technology.
“Access to technology provides professional and personal opportunities that might otherwise not be available,” says Karin von Wittgenstein, Director. “It’s also an opportunity for people to try things they never would have considered, like making a film or building a video game. These opportunities can lead into lifelong interests and career skills.”
In March 2019, this library and eight other public facilities in the Basin received $613,000 to purchase state-of-the-art technology with support from the Trust’s Community Technology Program. People can access this sophisticated equipment at no cost, making it easier for them to participate in the digital world.
“Collaboration with groups like the Kimberley Youth Action Network and others has brought a new energy to the library,” says von Wittgenstein, noting that people of varied interests have shown a keen interest in the equipment, from camera club members to videographers. “There has been significant increase in the opportunities for STEAM programming (meaning ‘science, technology, engineering, arts and math’), and children are more excited to come to the library than ever before.”
And the equipment isn’t site-specific. Not only can it be moved around the library to where it’s needed, but it can be easily transported into the community to ensure it reaches the maximum number of people, no matter their circumstances.
“Our outreach coordinator has already taken some hands-on tech programming to daycares and will soon be offering workshops for seniors in local facilities. We look forward to providing relevant workshops throughout the community.”
The goal of the equipment is broad. Von Wittgenstein says, “These learning opportunities for all ages will enable individuals to move forward with ambitions, career goals and personal development.”