The Rotary Club of Bigfork is partnering with the Imagine IF Library Foundation to meet the needs of new technology for the Bigfork Library. This proposal will address three aspects of technology needs for the community of Bigfork: 1) hardware in the form of new computers; and 2) a digital media lab. This matching district grant is vital to completing all aspects of this project.
Accessible technology is vital for success in the 21st century. Smaller schools and communities, like the unincorporated village of Bigfork, Montana, often lack the resources to provide accessible, current technology for the people of that community. Libraries provide free, accessible resources to all members of the community regardless of age, gender, race, or socio-economic status, making libraries a perfect setting to provide technological resources and creative hands-on learning spaces for all. These free resources are especially important for youth during the summer break. Research demonstrates that over the summer, students suffer learning losses in not just reading but also math and science, where the losses tend to be even greater. To address these issues Imagine IF Libraries launched a Summer Experience Program which focuses on STEAM subjects: science, technology, engineering, art and math. The nine-week Summer Experience program was launched in 2015 and continues to grow in demand and participation. Among many other activities, youth participants built helicopters and explored the principles of pitch, vibration and frequency. Teen participants currently engage in activities like creating robots and designing soda pop. These activities opened children's minds to the boundlessness of technology and exploration.
The first aspect of this grant proposal is to replace and upgrade the existing hardware in the library. The library currently has only two desktop and three laptop computers that vary in age from two to seven years old. This grant will provide two new public desktop computers, four new public laptop computers, two catalog station computers, and one self-check computer. This expansion of computers will accommodate the growing demand of computer use in the library, with operating systems that are current and relevant.
The second aspect of this grant proposal is to provide a digital media lab utilizing one of the new computers. The digital media lab will create a dedicated station for library users to explore learning digital design, illustration, video editing and publishing. Software included on this digital media lab is: MAC Pro, Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Typekit, Adobe Premier Pro, Microsoft Publisher, Sketchbook, and Microsoft Office. Additionally, this lab will include a Canon scanner and HP color printer, allowing library users to scan and print their creations. Many local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can benefit from this station by learning and developing materials to expand or enhance their businesses, thus growing economic development in Bigfork. Creative software is a critical tool used in many industries. By providing this lab, community members and students can develop their digital creative skills making them more marketable to potential employers.
The library's Summer Experience program targeted for high school teens, engages them in STEAM-based activities. The Bigfork program has seen slight increases in attendance; however, with overall low visitation, the addition of the digital media lab is specifically designed to increase interest and program attendance. This lab has the potential to expand this program beyond hands-on learning into the digital world, where many teens strive to be. Additionally, with the Bigfork Library only a block away from the Bigfork Schools, high school teachers can incorporate the digital media lab into their curriculum and encourage students to utilize the lab to enhance their school projects. This will also strengthen the partnership between the library and the school, and increase the familiarity and comfort level of students in the library. The digital media lab provides teens with not only a creative outlet but also to develop the 21st century skills desired by future employers.
Grant funds along with the Rotary Club of Bigfork's matching funds, totaling $9,860 will be used to purchase all of the items listed in the two aspects of this grant. If awarded, grant items would be purchased this July and set-up immediately upon receipt. The goal is to have the new computers and the digital media lab set-up and utilized in this summer's Summer Experience Programs. All equipment will be branded with the Rotary International logo.
Bigfork Rotarians are excited to be involved in the set-up and implementation of these library improvements and additions. When items are received, Rotarians would help unpack, and set-up all new computers and set up the digital media lab. The Bigfork Library and Bigfork Rotarians will then host a grand opening event celebrating the new additions. When the Summer Experience program is underway, Rotarians will partner with library staff to introduce and assist students with the digital media lab for the remainder of the program series.
The upgrades and addition to the Bigfork branch of the Imagine IF Library that this grant will provide, will offer excellent opportunities for Rotarians to enrich the lives of every child, teenager, young entrepreneur, parent, business owner, and senior in the greater Bigfork area.