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Houston Public Library: HPL Mobile Express

Houston Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Edward Melton, Administration Manager, Edward.melton@cityofhouston.net

Problem Statement

Based on data obtained through community analysis, many people are unfamiliar with and do not fully understand the scope of services that Houston Public Library provides. This lack of awareness tends to be more prevalent in communities HPL identifies as “underserved or disadvantaged” and illustrates how critical outreach programs are to expanding the library’s user base. To reach underserved and disadvantaged communities, HPL has constructed a comprehensive outreach program. The cornerstone of our future outreach efforts is an innovative new library service model called HPL Mobile Express.

Innovation

HPL Mobile Express is a state of the art technology lab on wheels that provides high-need urban neighborhoods with access to technology and delivers educational programs to underserved populations. Services include literacy programs, youth enrichment programs, citizenship classes, and technology training in the areas of digital literacy and workforce development. HPL Mobile Express is equipped with 13 desktop computers, 20 laptops, and a Smart Board for instruction and training. The HPL Mobile Express delivers enhanced library services beyond conventional methods and expands access to high-demand workshops and resources. HPL Mobile Express is uniquely positioned to help our community partners leverage the inherent value of their programs and significantly upgrade the quality of services provided.

Progress

Broadly this program builds partnerships in four programmatic arenas. One provides early literacy, reading and computer development skills. Two creates fun, interactive technology opportunities for teens. Three provides immigrant populations with the resources and skills to become US citizens. Four provides under-skilled individuals with the ability to enter the workforce and improve economic outcomes and helps seniors learn technology skills that improve their ability to function in online environments. During 2009, HPL Mobile Express conducted 395 site visits and provided over 12,000 customers access to technology. HPL received a Technology Solutions Award from the Public Technology Institute, “Public Library Surviving the Storm: Snapshot of Community Technology at its Best” for the innovative use of the HPL Mobile Express during the recovery phase of Hurricane Ike.