Open after hours New Prague Library welcomes extended access

Mitchell Marlow sits in an empty public library on a Sunday afternoon reading emails and performing research. The building has been closed for a day and won’t open Monday until noon, and yet the staff at the Scott County Library system is delighted he’s in the building using technology.

Marlow is one of the first users in the county library system’s extended access program. After successfully being implemented at county public libraries in Jordan and Elko New Market, extended access (EA) just arrived in New Prague last week. The Belle Plaine branch is next on the list for EA later this year. It requires people to watch a short training video and sign an agreement promising to use the facility within the county’s rules.

“We’re training the users,” said Kristy Rieger, the library system’s technology manager. “We’re keeping people accountable.”

Extended access allows library cardholders with a registered personal identification number to use the facility after hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during periods when the library is not regularly staffed. EA allows patrons to check out books using the self-service checkout, use library computers and print documents, just as they would when the facility is staffed, Rieger said.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” Marlow said.

Marlow has been using the county’s library system since he moved to Scott County in 2009. Library staff are willing to show library users how to utilize the self-checkout devices. For Marlow, the EA service only works because the library staff has helped him make the best use of the technology available. He has used EA in Jordan and New Prague. County staff showed him how to use the EA system and he started using it immediately.

“I’m not a high-tech guy,” he said. “The staff here has been super. If I had to rate them on a 1 to 10, I’d give them a 20. They are so helpful.”

Users will be warned within the final hour of the EA period and the facility’s security system will detect if someone is still in the building. The program was planned with...

To see more on this story pick up the June 8, 2023 print edition of The New Prague Times. 

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