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Ann Arbor District Library – A Connection to Entertainment, Education and Beyond

Each year, National Library Week honors the contributions of libraries and librarians. Throughout the second week of April, libraries across the nation celebrated the 2009 campaign under a common banner: “Worlds Connect @ Your Library.”

For members of the Ann Arbor Community who frequent their local branch, the festivities of National Library Week were a continuation of the great things that happen at the Ann Arbor District Library year-round.
Ann Arbor District Library
This year, the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) organized a series of fun and informative events to mark the occasion. Diverse in appeal, they ranged from a local historian’s take on the relationship of Ann Arbor and its German Sister City, Tübingen, to an exhibition featuring live bats from three different continents. Throw in a jazz concert, homebrewed beer, Guitar Hero, an Italian cooking demo, plus duct tape deco, and you have got something for everyone in the family to enjoy. And hopefully, they’ll have walked away from the festivities having experienced first-hand the way worlds connect @ their library.

That National Library Week chose to include the typographical character, @ in the banner is no coincidence either. The Internet age is upon us. Libraries across the nation are utilizing traditional technology in innovative ways to impact their communities. The Ann Arbor District Library is a prime example. The Merit fiber connection to the Downtown Library enables the AADL staff to involve their community in the excitement.

For instance, perhaps you missed one of the fantastic events at the Downtown Library you had hoped to attend? No problem. The Ann Arbor District Library provides an extensive on-demand video collection of past events and other Library productions.

The AADL Video Collection contains over 200 recordings, each averaging upwards of an hour in length. You can view most videos right from your web-browser, or select an option to download high-quality videos and iPod versions. Many programs feature audio-only editions for your mp3 player. You can even subscribe to podcasts of events through iTunes to be updated as new videos are added. The Video Collection is streamed via AADL’s fiber connection to Merit’s backbone network, ensuring that a connection to the world and beyond is always just a click away.

Community Enrichment

Making use of the high-performance connection, cardholders can browse and search any number of scholarly journals, academic articles, magazines and major news publications the Ann Arbor District Library subscribes to online. In addition, the Library preserves the Ann Arbor Community’s rich past by making available City Council Minutes from meetings dating back to the 1890s. Of course you can do all of this from the comfort of your own home, or using any of the public-access, internet-ready computers at each of the five AADL locations.

Each AADL branch offers a variety of free computer classes. Anyone from the most novice user to someone with a capable grasp of computing fundamentals will benefit from the varying degree of instruction provided. You can start with basic computer functions, and work your way up to PowerPoint and Excel, or learn the basics of Email and pick up some techniques to better surf the web. Courses in how to use Craigslist and Digital Cameras have been offered in the past as well. At the Ann Arbor District Library, any way that technological resources can be used to improve the lives of community members is considered—even helping kids with homework.

“Snooze, You Lose? Not with Brainfuse!”

Imagine receiving help with schoolwork from a live tutor while sitting at home and drinking hot cocoa in your pajamas. Or better yet, imagine freeing up some well-deserved time for yourself as your child’s homework dilemma is resolved with a simple internet log-on. Thanks to the effort of the Ann Arbor District Library and a nifty tutoring service called Brainfuse, it is now possible.

Brainfuse is a website that connects students with tutors in a live interface. Students can chat with a tutor in real-time and receive instruction in English or Spanish in a number of subject areas. Brainfuse tutors are versed in online teaching techniques in addition to specializing in a field of study like math, social studies or science. They will assist students with specific homework problems or help them stay ahead of the curve by practicing their skills.

Brainfuse can save families time and money. It is available from 2:00-11:00pm every evening of the week. No appointment is necessary and the service is free to AADL cardholders. To access Brainfuse, simply log on to www.aadl.org/homework.

Sharing the Resources of Today

Perhaps the most important use of their Merit Network fiber connection of late has been the Ann Arbor District Library’s service as a Michigan SHARE Network Access Point. SHARE stands for Sharing How Access to Resources Empowers. The network brings together workforce development partners, faith-based and community organizations, as well as business and governmental agencies. It is an ideal tool for combating the hardships of Michigan’s economy.

Residents of the greater Ann Arbor area can use the Downtown Library (which is part of the SHARE consortium) to connect to the SHARE Network. There they will find a wealth of useful information and resources that are organized and readily accessible. They can browse over 100 different area service-providers with services ranging from adult employment to youth volunteer opportunities.

On the SHARE Network portal, members of the Ann Arbor Community can also research the No Worker Left Behind Act and job-training programs throughout the state, post their resume in the Michigan Talent Bank or find relevant Health and Human Services information. Because SHARE compiles so many resources in one place, it saves residents time and money. And accessing the network from the library allows them to benefit from the guidance and assistance of the helpful Ann Arbor District Library staff.

Ensuring high-speed access to the SHARE Network is just one of many ways the Ann Arbor District Library is helping community members weather the current economic climate. In the first week of June, the AADL will host MichiganWorks! and the University of Michigan Career Center to conduct open classes for the public. Instruction will be provided to help improve resumes, write better cover letters and pick up some successful interviewing techniques.

About the Ann Arbor District Library:

The Ann Arbor District Library system is composed of the Downtown Library and four branch libraries: Malletts Creek, Traverwood, West, and Pittsfield. The library system offers over 500,000 materials to Ann Arbor residents, from books and DVDs, to compact discs, magazines, audio books and more. In total, the system experienced over 8 million circulation transactions (check-outs and renewals) during fiscal year 2007-2008.

Merit provides the Ann Arbor District Library’s Downtown Library with a 1 Gigabit per second fiber connection. In the last year, the amount of information the Library sent and received over their connection was equivalent to 20.3 million megabytes, enough to fill 28,921 compact discs.