By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Are you interested in learning more about the latest computer gadgets but aren’t sure how to do it?
Check out the library.
The Main Branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (PLYMC), at 305 Wick Ave., near Youngstown State University, recently opened its Technology Playground.
It’s an area where library users can try out some of the newest devices, including a Nook tablet, iPad, iMac, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface, Google Chromebook and Google Nexus 7. Folks in the market for one of the devices can figure out which one they like best before making a purchase.
It’s the latest service the library is offering to help residents keep up with the latest computer services and products.
“Our library system values the importance of technology in today’s society and recognizes that it is a key player in delivery of information,” said Janet Loew, PLYMC spokesman, in an email. “Being in the business of connecting people with information, the library places a priority on its technology services and on staying up-to-date.”
The Technology Playground is just the latest computer technology service of the library system.
More than 260 public-access computers with Internet connections are spread out over the system’s 15 branch locations, and all have very fast T1 connections. Librarians are trained at each branch to help users navigate the computers. An iPad will soon be added to the West Side branch, thanks to a $500 donation from the Rocky Ridge Neighborhood Association.
Library cardholders can also access streaming movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks with the Hoopla digital service.
Cardholders can download, through their app store, the free Hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or Apple IOS device, or access the service from the library’s website (libraryvisit.org/hoopla). Thousands of titles from major Hollywood studios, record companies and publishers are available to borrow for instant streaming or temporary downloading to smart phones, tablets and computers.
Full digital copies of more than 140 magazines are also available to cardholders at libraryvisit.org through the Zinio electronic newsstand. Viewing platforms include computer, smart phone and tablet.
Residents who need to use a printer can access the library system’s printers from their home with the new mobile printing service. Go to http://print.libraryvisit.org and log on with a library card barcode and your personal identification number (PIN). If you don’t have a PIN, sign up at https://catalog.libraryvisit.org/patroninfo.
There are many other tech services available at the library. Here is an overview:
Overdrive eBooks and Audiobooks: Overdrive provides eBooks and audiobooks that cardholders can check out and download to a mobile device, computer or Overdrive mobile app. Overdrive books do have a loan period, but they automatically return themselves so there are never any fines.
Learn4Life: Cardholders now have access to free instructor-led online courses at libraryvisit.org/learn4life. Classes run for six weeks and new classes begin every month. Participants with a passing score are issued an Award of Completion at the end of each class. Some classes qualify for Continuing Education Certificates.
Library cardholders may take up to five classes per year at no cost, choosing from the many types of classes, such as: accounting and finance, business, college readiness, computer applications, design and composition, health care and medical, language and arts, legal, personal development, teaching and education, technology, writing and publishing. Learn more at libraryvisit.org/learn4life/.
PLYMC Mobile App: Established services, like the PLYMC mobile app, brings the library to any mobile device. Cardholders can search the catalog, locate a book, and have it sent to the library of your choice to pick up. Cardholders can view library locations and hours, find library programs for all ages, see new and recommended materials, check library accounts, and more. The app’s Booklook feature can be used in a store to scan a book’s barcode and determine if the library offers that book. Learn more at libraryvisit.org/plymcmobile.