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Library offers chance to test new technology

Workshop introduces latest in electronic devices, provides instruction on iPads, Nooks, Kindles

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- IPads, Kindles and Nooks, among other electronic devices, will be available for test runs at the Strasburg Community Library's technology "zoo" today.

The event gives residents the opportunity to try out the devices and get some instruction on how to use them before deciding which ones they like best.

"It's a chance for people to sit down and try before they buy," said Ray Willis, president of the Strasburg Community Library.

Roughly 20 to 25 different pieces of equipment will be available for guests to try out. Willis said the event is mostly geared toward e-readers, but that there will also be other types of devices to try out as well.

"People can get familiar with this kind of equipment, can make a rational decision about buying something without going to the store and being pressured to buy something by a salesperson who wants to make a sale more than give that person the product that is the best fit for them," he said.

The technology "zoo" is the second of its kind in the region; two workshops were held at the Shenandoah County Library on Tuesday.

David Robinson, adult services librarian at Shenandoah County Library, said the earlier sessions went very well and had a good turnout.

"We had about 20 to 30 people," he said. "It was mostly people who were interested in purchasing but couldn't decide from the myriad of devices they had to choose from."
The Shenandoah County Library was recently chosen by the Library of Virginia as the technology center for the region.

Robinson said the library went through a competitive application process before being chosen for the designation about two months ago.

Much of the equipment being used for the "zoos" was given to the library to help train employees as well as give instruction to customers.

Trained representatives will bring the devices to the Strasburg Community Library for today's workshop. They will also be available to help residents learn how to navigate the various devices.

"I think for a good number of people the question in their minds is, 'Do I want something specifically designed for reading or something that would allow me to read and do other things?" he said. "It's not only cost, it's the shiny or matte finish, weight and what options do I have with putting things on it."

Robinson said library employees plan on exploring the idea of doing workshops at other locations as well.

"We've received requests from other locations in our system," he said. "It seems like the demand is pretty high for this type of initiative, so we are looking forward to fitting everybody in."

He said the staff is also thinking about offering similar workshops after Christmas, in case people get some of this equipment as gifts, but then aren't sure how to use it.

The acquisition has also been exciting for the library staff, said Robinson.

"A lot of times, especially now that we are part of the consortium that checks out e-books, a lot of our reference questions are technology-related," he said. "Now that [the staff] can play with these devices and figure the out they can better address those questions."

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