Using Modern Technology to Help Libraries

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Arthur the Aardvark's message of fun while reading has resonated with children since his show debuted in 1996.

And librarians in the tri-state area are trying to keep his message alive almost 20 years later.

"Our whole thing is to provide our communities with something that's different and unique, you know, give them that option," said Traci Lund, director of the Divide County Library.

To do that, librarians from Minnesota and the Dakotas are participating in a program called Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover or ILEAD.

The program helps librarians teach people how to use electronics.

"Whether most people recognize it or not, they have always been technology based," said Eric Stroshane, vice president of the North Dakota State Library. "So it's important that we continue to evolve to meet the needs of the communities as the technology around us evolves."

The Illinois State Library spearheaded the program, which helps libraries in 10 states.

It includes teaching librarians about assembling robotics kits, assisting video production and providing ebooks, all of which will eventually be free for the public to access.

"Who doesn't like to have fun," Lund said. "And for families right now, things are expensive. Your local libraries can provide so many things. As taxpayers, you've already paid for it, so use it."

The program wraps up its first week of meetings tomorrow, but there will be two week-long seminars in June and October.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services and a grant from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program fund ILEAD and most of the librarians' expenses this week.