The El Dorado County Library System was awarded a sizeable grant from the NorthNet Library System, a cooperative of all libraries in Northern California, to create its own “Touch the Past” interactive digital kiosk. The $12,000 kiosk features a video screen and eight interactive cells that, with a wave of the hand, each relay seven minutes of El Dorado County history , covering Lake Tahoe, logging, railroads, the Gold Rush, then & tow, apples and wine, recreation and museums.
El Dorado Hills Library Branch Manager Carolyn Brooks applied for the grant and local experts had a hand in every part of the kiosk’s content. Members of the Historical Society narrate six of the videos and recent Oak Ridge graduate Corbin Gomez narrates the Gold Rush and Recreation videos. “Corbin won the Poetry Out Loud contest in El Dorado County and in the state,” said Brooks. “He also came in eighth in the national contest.”
Retired Buckeye teacher Dee Owens produced the video segments and said the most difficult part of the process was keeping each one short. In all, Owens said it took six months to create the videos.
New York-based company DC Connect used (i)cell technology to build the system. “The ‘i’ stands for innovative, interactive and intuitive,” said president of DC Connect John Moyik, who was on hand to answer questions at the library reception last Wednesday evening when the public was invited to see the kiosk for the first time.
The kiosk is built in a 93-inch-by-39-inch-by-3-inch self-standing aluminum frame with a custom printed fabric face and fabric backing. In addition to the interactive eight cell activation points, the unit houses a Windows PC, and a 32-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution monitor with speakers. One power cord comes out the bottom.
DC Connect created similar custom kiosks in Carmel, Whittier and Rancho Cucamonga. “Libraries in California have really taken off with the (i)cell technology,” said Moyik. “Library patrons are able to get quick information about their county and then move on.”
Because each unit is made to order, Moyik said El Dorado County’s kiosk has something the others do not. “Other cities and counties used still photos with captions,” said Moyik. “Dee Owens used a nice combination of historical photos and live images along with narration to sell the stories.”
Museums are another consumer of the technology, said Moyik. The company is currently creating (i)cell display cases where visitors may wave their hands over an interactive cell to hear information about what’s in the display case. “No smudges on glass, no fuss,” said Moyik.
Starting with the El Dorado Hills Library, the kiosk will rotate through El Dorado County approximately month to month said El Dorado County Library Director Jeannie Amos. It will be moved to the Welcome Center in Town Center next and then it will be off to the Cameron Park Library.
“It’s portable, so we plan to coordinate with local schools so that they can have it at their sites during events like open house, history days and other special occasions,” said Amos. In the future she’d like to see the video content put on DVD to benefit the historical society.
As the El Dorado Hills Library has been recognized as a state leader in early childhood education, Brooks arranged for a musical instrument console using the same technology to be on hand only for the reception. “The possibilities are endless with this technology,” she said with plans to make it accessible for all ages.
El Dorado Hills resident Betty January helped form the grassroots Citizens for a Community Library coalition and worked tirelessly to see that the El Dorado Hills Library was eventually built. She is also active in the Clarksville Region Historical Society, a group of residents who want to preserve the area’s history. January said she’s excited about how the kiosk can help preserve the county’s history by educating residents and she’s advocating for one that stays permanently in El Dorado Hills and that caters to the emergence of El Dorado Hills.
“We’d keep the railroad, timber and logging (cells,) which are specific to the county at large, but I’d like to see one that also includes the rich history behind Clarksville, Mormon Island, our own rich wine history and more,” January explained. “Right now the kiosk is Placerville heavy. I’d like the information to better represent our 44,000 residents and not just the 10,000 who live in Placerville. That would be of greater interest to our community.”
As officials and library patrons inspected the new addition, one mother was overheard whispering to her children, “There are no limits when it comes to the library.”