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Face to Face: Video Service for Families, Soldiers & Others

Pierce County Library System, WA
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Innovation Summary

PCLS offers members of the community the ability to communicate with distant family, “attend” job interviews remotely by providing a Skype station. Skype is a video calling program which allows people to communicate with one another free of charge.

Innovation Leader: Sharon Nichols, Page Supervisor, snichols@piercecountylibrary.org

Problem Statement

A large military complex, Joint Base Lewis McChord, is located in PCLS’s service area, Many community members have family deployed in war zone or in different parts of the world. While most deployed soldiers have computer and internet access, not all families remaining behind do. The Library saw an opportunity to connect families by providing access to video calling technology (Skype) in the Library. In addition, more job seekers are being asked to interview remotely, for convenience, speed and cost savings. And local families with relatives who are incarcerated then relocated to jail facilities elsewhere in the state, have an opportunity to visit when they do not have the resources, including transportation, to travel out of the local area.

Innovation

While examining our local community, we identified a large number of job seekers and Military personnel. Many of these individuals and families visit the Library to use Internet stations. These stations do not have webcams, which are required to make video calls. To be able to provide Skype service, Pierce County Library System installed a computer set up for video calling, with the required hardware and software. Staff members are available to help customers set up accounts and get started.

Progress

The Skype station enables customers to bring their families together and connect via video calling. Parents are connecting with their children, and are able to share in their family’s daily activities and even help a child with homework. Grandparents are able to share time with their families, seeing their grandchildren grow and being involved with relative’s lives more actively, even though they live far away. We have even watched as kids share what they have done at school or show off a new haircut. Job seekers have been able to extend their job search opportunities beyond the local area without incurring travel expenses. The first day the Skype station was announced to the public, the Library received a call from someone wanting to reserve a timeslot to interview for a job overseas. The Skype Station has increased communication possibilities, and Pierce County Library System is excited to provide this service to its customers, offering them increased options for communicating around the world, connecting, engaging and sharing with others.