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After-Hours Computing

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After-Hours Computing

St. Louis County Library, Mo.

Education - Children & Adults | Top Innovator

Innovation Synopsis

Responding to a community need for increased access to computers and internet access, the library opened the Emerson Technology Center. The Center offers access to computers and lab assistance after the library closes.


The library offers many computers for patron use but until last year all of them were off limits when the library closed. We knew that computer usage was heavy in our Natural Bridge Branch, so we surveyed the community to determine the usefulness of after hours computer access. Now patrons have 10 extra hours of access each week. The lab/classroom has 24 computers, a printer, a fax station and a color copier.

Key Elements of Innovation

Patrons use the Natural Bridge Branch for photocopies, faxes and school/work projects. Thanks to a generous donation from Emerson, patrons are able to get things done later in the evening. The Emerson Technology Center includes a bright computer lab and classroom complete with ceiling-mounted projector and motorized projection screen. When the classroom isn’t being used for classes the room functions as a family lab. Parents can use the computers while kids play at child-sized furniture.

Achieved Outcomes

The after hours lab sees an average of 284 patrons each month. A student came in because his laptop was broken and he needed to finish his term paper for the next day. A patron comes to the lab weekly after work and stays until close at 11 p.m. She takes Lynda online courses. Since she cannot afford to buy a new computer, she now feels she does not have to get one.