SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Summer vacation is supposed to be a fun, worry-free time for school kids. Many will be spending more time at the public library. In Sioux City, the children’s computer area is one of the fastest growing resource areas available to kids.
A recent national information survey by Florida State University shows 99 percent of all U.S. public libraries provide free public access to computers wired to the internet. That compares to 25 percent 10 years ago. Technology Specialist Jon Hadden says, “There are new faces every day. I love watching kids run in and run up to the computer and get on whatever site they are looking for and have a blast.”
Public computers are available at Sioux City’s main library as well as the Morningside branch. As the opportunity for online use grows so does the need for safety measures to keep kids from seeing inappropriate material online.
Youth Services Manager Adrienne Dunn says, “If they stay in the children’s area we do try and make sure the content they are viewing is appropriate for anyone who might walk by.” Hadden adds, “Parental supervision is key to being safe online for kids, but we do have safeguards in place. Down here at youth computers even Facebook is blocked.
The digital divide that separates information haves from the have-nots is shrinking. The youth of today may be growing up online but the internet so far is not replacing the library most folks grew up with.
Dunn adds, “Per library card they can have access for 1 hour for 2 times. So basically parents will say you can be on the computer for an hour and after that, we’re going to choose our books. That works really well for us.”
To add another layer of protection, the library staff has placed computers for adults on the second floor with younger children having access on the first floor.