North Riverside Public Library, 2400 Desplaines Ave., is the proud owner of very sophisticated technology – a Cisco Webex Board 85S, an 85-inch interactive touchscreen device – that offers ultra-high-definition 4K resolution and can be used to screen movies, organize meetings, allow people to virtually attend in-person programs and more.
Such a device would normally be considered a luxury for a small library district like North Riverside. The devices are priced at $ 50,000 or more, but the North Riverside Public Library got its Webex board for free, a donation from a company called World Wide Technology, a Rosemont-based software company that was getting rid of it. equipment now that many employees are working remotely.
This company acquired the device directly from Cisco, which had offices in the same building but shut them down when the pandemic swept through last year. How did the North Riverside Public Library get on the World Wide Technology radar, you might ask?
Ideally, the company employs the husband of the director of the North Riverside library, Natalie Starosta, James Starosta.
The company also donated a 55-inch television, which will be used elsewhere in the library to advertise upcoming programs. The Cisco Webex table – Webex is a video conferencing technology similar to Zoom – is located in the public meeting room of the library.
Although it is giant in size, the board functions in some ways like a regular tablet and can be used, for example, to visit the library website and register for programs with a simple tap.
“What’s fun about this and what’s going to be extremely functional for us… is doing virtual programming at the same time as we’re doing it in person,” Starosta said. “So we can have hybrid programs without any additional equipment. “
The device has 12 microphones, so it can record sound “surprisingly well,” Starosta said.
“And when someone is speaking, it will zoom in on that person, so when we have a presenter or someone showing things or doing demos, it will zoom in on that person,” she added.
The new Webex board, which the library took possession of less than a month ago, is the latest in a series of upgrades that have been underway throughout the pandemic and are now rolling out to customers.
Lower-level children’s wards are in the middle of a project to replace rugs and shelving and generally rearrange the space in the same way that the library completed on its main floor in 2018. Starosta said that officials hope the lower level will reopen by Labor Day. .
A new book sales room is also planned, which will be located in a former storage space near the entrance to the public meeting room. Books for sale will be displayed on shelves already set up and the room will include a few chairs for customers to browse before buying.
The library currently has a small cart near the main entrance where books for sale are displayed. The new room will be a permanent home for these books, with the proceeds going to the North Riverside Library Foundation.
Completed last week and now open to customers, the library’s new production studio, which includes a variety of musical instruments – guitars, keyboards and electronic drums – sound equipment and audio production hardware and software.
The production studio also offers customers ways to convert outdated video and audio formats, such as Super 8 movies, VHS, tapes, slides and photographs, to digital formats.
Finally, the library also converts another storage room into a place for the North Riverside Historical Society to store their archives – minus the Melody Mill Ballroom panel, which remains at the rear of the village public works building. The company’s collection is currently scattered across various private homes and offices.