Award Report- The Tale of Two Aircards
The Delaware Academy of Medicine was the recipient of funding to purchase, install, and maintain two Verizon “Aircards” for wireless internet access. The goal “from 25,000 feet” was to provide reliable high speed internet access to one of our consumer health librarians and for our electronic resources coordinator. The thought was that giving them “untethered” access to resources would, in turn, give all consumers they work with better access, especially in locations with dial-up internet access (or no access all).
The consumer health librarian involved in the project experienced no technical difficulties with the aircard and successfully accessed the internet during every outreach opportunity. Members of the public who attended these outreach sessions provided unsolicited written positive feedback to the librarian, indicating their gratitude for consumer health information provided. The ability to provide consumer health information services in various public libraries allowed for increased visibility and awareness of consumer health information services, and also reinforced the consumer health librarian as a reliable contributor to meeting the needs of the public library community.
On the other hand, our electronic resources coordinator had a very different and, unfortunately, negative experience which contains valuable lessons for others. This staffperson wanted to use the aircard in presentations at area hospitals and other large state institutions for training purposes. Both scenarios involve strict firewalls that frequently prohibit easy access to the open internet. We had hoped that using the aircard would eliminate this barrier. However, frequently the auditoriums and conference rooms used for trainings at these facilities are interior rooms within large concrete and steel structures where getting any connection to the internet via aircard was usually a lost cause. This was true even if a cell phone would work in the same space.
Our conclusions – aircards are good on the open road and in buildings with small footprints and/or lots of windows. However, they are not recommended for use in large structures with interior rooms at this time. In the future technology will undoubtedly improve, but for now we concluded this was not a good approach to count on.
Tim Gibbs- Delaware Academy of Medicine. Newark, Delaware