2018 PLP Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grant Recipients

To connect with any of the below Innovation and Technology grant recipients please email info@plpinfo.org

To meet expressed needs of the community, Contra Costa County Library is embarking on the Readers Initiative to reintroduce an important relationship between individuals and their fondest library memories (what the strategic plan refers to as the ‘evocative library’). By reestablishing this critical relationship the library will be well positioned to greet current and lapsed users while also creating relationships with new users. Central to this is making sure the library is a welcoming place in how it greets people and how it presents products and services. This grant will facilitate contracting with a library consultant to provide assessments and recommendations for the customer experience. The project includes implementation and staff training on best practices and will be made available to PLP members and other libraries.

Contra Costa County Library
Video Storytimes: Anytime, Anywhere

Contra Costa County Library will partner with Contra Costa Television to record and edit over 50 videos of library staff performing storytime activities. These performances will be filmed in the Contra Costa Television studio and aired on their public access channel. The performances will also be uploaded to the Library’s Storytime Channel on YouTube to complement the recently launched starter collection of 26 storytime videos. The intention of the project is to expand the number of offerings on the Storytime Channel, extend the library’s reach into the community, and generate more awareness of the library as an early literacy hub. Each video will be designed for kids and families to learn and practice skills that are fundamental to early literacy, just as if they were attending a storytime held inside a library building.

While many college students have consistent and reliable internet access, those who do not face a significant barrier to academic success. This barrier, which disproportionately affects students who are low income or living in rural areas, is what this project aims to reduce. PLP funding would be used to purchase 10 wifi hotspot devices with unlimited data plans, to be loaned to CSUMB students for a period of one week with the option to renew as long as no other students are waiting to borrow a device. The funding would be used to conduct a two-year pilot program, during which time we would collect circulation data as well as qualitative information from students about whether and how the program contributed to their ability to succeed in their academic endeavors. Assuming positive results, we would use that information to seek ongoing funding from the Division of Academic Affairs to continue the program. We believe this is timely, as the campus is currently engaged in Graduation Initiative 2025, a directive from the CSU Office of the Chancellor which aims to dramatically increase student retention and four-year graduation rates. As nearly all CSUMB courses make use of iLearn, the campus online learning management system, and many courses require students to access library-owned electronic reading materials, conduct research, and complete assignments online, this program would

The Los Gatos Library seeks to replicate the Retro Tech program at Santa Clara City Library. Retro Tech is a collection of “retro” equipment from the last century that transfer older formats into digital files. The equipment will serve to record patrons’ stories and memories digitally, whether they are photographs, VHS tapes, cassette tapes, or Super 8 movie reels. The Library would invite patrons to make appointments to use the equipment in two hour blocks in the Library. The Library would also host “Retro Tech Parties” at community partner sites like senior residences or various community events. Staff members and volunteers would direct patrons to the various equipment needed to digitize their collections of long-forgotten memories buried within boxes of photos, recordings, and miscellanea hidden in attics, basements and garages throughout the Town of Los Gatos. The program not only offers the free and local service of helping people digitize their memories, but offers to educate patrons on preservation and technology.

Given the increasing number of digital services provided by libraries, helping customers virtually becomes more and more challenging. Many factors complicate troubleshooting via email and over the phone. Solving a problem usually requires identifying the customer’s operating system, device details, browser type and version as well as the application where the problem is occurring. Libraries need a remote troubleshooting solution that can fully capture these details in real time with limited staff resources while making it simple and easy for our customers. This pilot project allows customers to receive improved help experiences using video calls using smart home devices. The Amazon Echo Show is a stand-alone smart home device with a 7-inch touchscreen display, powered by Amazon Alexa. Through our project, customers will be able to receive service from their own Alexa-powered device or from dedicated Amazon Echo Shows placed at each of our branches. The project will also explore other potential customer services uses of Amazon Alexa technology at the library and analyze customer opinions with using such technology.

The Palo Alto City Library (PACL) is looking to replicate the “Retro Tech: Self Service Preservation, Digitizing and Conversion Station,” developed by Santa Clara City Library (SCCL). Much like SCCL’s model, PACL will provide equipment access to customers to digitize documents, photos and sound and video recordings. Customers would make 2-hour appointments, and work with volunteers or staff to digitize their items. The equipment would be mobile and PACL would schedule outreach visits to senior facilities, churches and other community events.

The Salinas Public Library embraces the future of libraries by experimenting with and adopting new technologies to improve and change how library services may be provided to the public. Since many in Salinas don't have access to the latest technologies in their homes, positioning the library as a "public laboratory" for new technology is particularly important. For this project, the Library plans to purchase a NAO robot for use as a "greeter" and to augment programming, and the latest Beam+device. We plan to evaluate the practicality and cost of sustaining these services, as well as the quality of engagement with patrons. The innovative services and programs will be designed for a very "public" and broad audience at the Library Connection @ Northridge, the interim library location serving North Salinas until the new, much expanded El Gabilan Library is built. The robots will provide informational resources about Library services, the other sites and locations for library services, and will be used in other creative ways to augment existing programs.

San José Public Library (SJPL) proposes replicating and evolving Santa Clara City Library’s (SCCL) successful 16/17 PLP Innovation Grant, “Retro Tech – Bringing 20th Century Media into the 21st Century.” Our project will add a collection of obsolete media equipment into the California Room (SJPL’s history room). Patrons will make two-hour appointments where, instructed by staff and volunteers, they will learn how to digitize photos, recordings, and ephemera, preserving their analog histories for the digital future. In addition to standard marketing strategies through library branches and publications, staff will take equipment to outreach events at local high schools, colleges, archives and historical groups. At these events we will provide demonstrations of the equipment and information on the value and methods of preservation.

San Juan Bautista's City Library, "The City History, Lift Your Spirit," proposes adding a mobile collection of retro equipment from the last century to assist customers with preserving their personal documents, photos, sound recordings in order to help record their family stories digitally. The Library would invite patrons to make appointments, to use the equipment in tow-hour blocks in the library's study rooms., The Library would also host retro tech parties in the library and at community partners sites like the San Juan Bautista Historical Society and Museum or various community events. Staff, Interns, and Volunteers would orient patrons to the various equipment needed to digitize their collection of long forgotten memories buried within boxes of photo, recordings, and miscellanea hidden in attics, basements, and garages throughout the city.

The Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) has set up the first-ever library partnership with the popular meditation app Headspace to bring the premium version of the application to library cardholders for checkout. The app includes meditations to help people of all ages improve physical and mental health, work and school performance, and interpersonal relationships. This initiative will serve as a pilot to create a version of the Headspace app for public libraries nationwide in the future.

The idea behind the Unplug: STEM Kits for Infants through Preschool Children proposal was inspired by the California Academy of Sciences STEM classroom kits. The Academy’s kits are intended for older school-aged children and the library would like to adapt this concept for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. STEM learning for this age group happens best through play, which is informal and intentionally child-directed. With this grant, we would develop STEM kits to loan to families who can use them to “unplug” from screen time and learn and play with their children. Each STEM kit will vary in its contents depending on theme (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and age (infants, toddlers, and preschoolers). The kit could include many or all of the following items: developmentally appropriate books, activity sheets, and items for experimentation, investigation and exploration. We hope these kits will provide families the opportunity to expose their young children to STEM learning through play, and in turn will inspire them to think of STEM in a more simple and easy to understand way.

Mighty Beginnings will be a bilingual English/Spanish kit containing tips and materials to educate parents/guardians on the value of early literacy and to facilitate their engagement in age-appropriate programming, shared learning and networking opportunities. It is designed to support new parents/guardians as they and their young child embark on their journey to develop a life-long love of reading and learning. These kits will be appropriate for children 0 to 2 years old and will include an abundant amount of early literacy tools. In addition to the physical Mighty Beginnings Kit, we will create a monthly “Family Play Date” component. “Family Play Date” will be a series of free, monthly meet-ups for parents/guardians and children within our targeted age group to engage in fun, interactive activities specially designed to meet the needs of our target age group. The meet-ups will create a friendly, conversational environment among parents/guardians to share best practices and learn from each other. A final component of the Mighty Beginnings project will be four presentations from experts on topics promoting literacy and health at “Family Play Dates.”

Watsonville Public Library
Pop-up Book-Mobile Library

Since the 1860’s, Watsonville Public Library (WPL) has been providing library services at various locations. The WPL system includes the Main downtown library, Freedom branch, and the Watsonville Literacy Center. The library is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary at its downtown location. Although, the library offers traditional library services in a building; the library lacks a book mobile which is critical for providing outreach services. This is the perfect time for WPL to demonstrate our enthusiasm for alternative means of delivering library services. The City of Watsonville has numerous community events and gatherings that are perfect for a library presence. For this project, WPL plans to purchase a Pop-up Book Mobile library by exploring alternative modes of transportation. There are two options 1) a customized gas powered cargo van or 2) a specially designed electric book van. Both options will allow staff to engage with our community in parks, at schools, farmer markets, and neighborhoods enhancing our visibility while fostering new connections within the City of Watsonville.