A virtual family reunion at Grand County library
July 3, 2008
There have been many productive and innovative uses made of the free WiFi Internet access @ Your Library.
But Jodie Harvey of Tabernash has used the high speed WiFi at the Fraser Valley Library in a productive and innovative fashion that would warm the heart of even the most cold-hearted cynic.
Harvey, an Australian who is married to Jerry Harvey, uses the high-speed wireless connection at the Fraser Valley Library to video conference with her family in Australia using Skype software and her laptop computer. Skykpe is a voice- and video-over-Internet service provider.
Rather than a video conference it’s more like a video family reunion.
In this way, even though her family lives halfway around the globe, her parents and sibling can see her and her children “live,” in real time and in seemingly in-person.
In fact, it was in this way that her parents saw for the first time her newest child Georgia, who is now six months old. The Harveys also have a son, Jackson, who is 5 years old. Jodie Harvey works at the Winter Park Resort and her husband works for Boxwell Construction.
“It was probably late January or early February so Georgia would have been two months old and we dialed up at the library,” Harvey said. “And that was the fist time my parents had seen Georgia ever, apart from the odd photo that we had e-mailed to them sent here and there.”
“So that was a real highlight that they could see Georgia for the first time,” she said.
Like all the Grand County Libraries, the Fraser Valley Library offers free high-speed WiFi Internet access. A library card is not required for people wanting to use the libraries’ high-speed Internet access, whether it is on a high-speed WiFi connection to a personal laptop or on a computer in place @ Your Library.
Increasingly, the availability of the high-speed Internet in the Grand County libraries, both on computers in the libraries and through the wireless connections, has been creating new avenues for business, tourism and communications in the county.
“We use the library’s high speed Internet with my laptop simply because we don’t have high speed Internet access at home,” Jodie said. This is a problem faced by many county residents who live in out-of-the way locations.
“It’s great,” she said. “We get the pass word and usually I use one of their quiet rooms and we use it to Skype my parents in Australia and also my brother and his kids.”
It’s like a virtual family reunion right there in the Fraser Valley Library linking families here with families in Australia.
Since the “reunion” happens in real time, there are logistics relating to time changes.
“We have to do it at a certain time of the day just because we have to catch the library while it’s open and make sure it’s not too early in the morning (there), when it’s open,” she said.
The time in Australia is 16 hours ahead of time.
“They’re eight hours behind but you call it tomorrow,” she said. “So if it’s four o’clock at the library, in the afternoon, it’s eight o’clock in the morning. Which is kind of how we get limited. You have to be there late at the library but early in the morning in Australia.”
It is not a difficult endeavor for Jodie to link up with her family in real time, however.
She usually hooks up and makes her linkage late in the day at the library so that it’s not too early in the day for her family in Australia. Usually, she goes to the library on a day off or after she gets off work. She arrives at the library before it closes for the day. They let her use one of the private study rooms for the transmissions.
“The process was seamless because I had my own laptop and the library provides a very easy method for accessing the Internet,” she said. “And you’re able to download applications directly. There are plenty of power points that I can plug into, too. And then because the log on process is so simplified that I can just do it myself. No one really knows that I’m Skyping away, I’m just in one of those private meeting rooms with the door shut and away we go.”
The video part of the interactions is the thrilling part for both her and her children. They can see, right there on the screen, her parents or her brother and his family. It’s as if they were next door rather than around the world.
The process of using Skype is relatively easy once a user becomes a member. The quality of the image transmission depends, of course, on the bandwidth available at the time of the transmission. Bandwidth availability can be affected by usage at the library or Skype usage in general all around the world.
Harvey is savvy about using her laptop and the applications for her Skype transmissions so she hasn’t felt the need to interact with library staff or patrons for assistance.
“But whenever I have had a need to interact with the library staff they’ve been so helpful that it’s a pleasure to go back and do it,” she said.
Library staff is more than happy to assist patrons with the wireless connectivity and with other computer functionality.
Even though Harvey lives in the heights of the Colorado Rockies more than 12,000 miles from home, she can still see her family “live” on her laptop computer.
This is all thanks to Skype and thanks to the high speed WiFi high-speed Internet at the Fraser Valley Library.
Similar uses – whether they be virtual family reunions or educational video conferencing – can be made throughout Grand County @ Your Library.