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Videoconference (or video conference) is an interactive communications technology that allows two or more locations to interact with one another over the Internet. Videoconferencing involves both audio and video, enabling participants to see and hear one another in real-time. For more detailed information about videoconferencing, check out this wikipedia article. For many years, videoconferencing has been used by educational institutions to facilitate distance learning and virtual field trips. Only recently has it been adopted for use in libraries. Videoconferencing in libraries provides alternative life-long learning opportunities, access to distance education, government information as well as health information. It can be especially useful in rural or remote communities where it can be difficult to access information and learning opportunities. Videoconferencing can be used for shared in-house training with other libraries, shared library programming (such as book clubs, workshops, information sessions), meetings, medical consultations and more. The possibilities are virtually endless for libraries willing to take on the challenge.

Success Stories

The Rural Information Services Initiative (now known as the RISE Network) is a partnership between Chinook Arch Regional Library System, Marigold Library System and Shortgrass Library System, all based in Alberta, Canada. The project, which is funded by Rural Alberta’s Development Fund, the Public Library Development Initiative, The Alberta Library and other private sources, has installed video conferencing equipment in 78 public libraries throughout Southern Alberta, as well as the three library system headquarters. Using the Alberta SuperNet, the RISE Network is working to enhance and add to existing services reaching more than 450,000 people in 89 rural municipalities throughout southern Alberta. The project's aim is to increase rural quality of life by allowing communication with healthcare professionals, educators, families, libraries, entertainers and others via videoconferencing.

The RISE Network has been fully operational since September 2009 and has shared over 100 library-based programs with patrons throughout southern Alberta. The programs offered are very diverse, including everything from quilting workshops to information sessions on Alzheimer's Disease, investments and retirement. Library patrons can also use the equipment for their own purposes as well. To this end, it has been used for medical consultations, distance education, ESL training, meetings of various sizes and even a family reunion!

Visit the RISE Network website to take a look at the upcoming programs available through the RISE Network. The website was developed to make participating in shared programming easier for both libraries and their patrons. The website also makes finding promotional materials and other resources easier for librarians and library managers.

Videoconferencing Resources

  • 2 Learn Education Society
  • Centre for Interactive Learning and Collaboration
  • Polycom
  • RISE Network Resources
  • How To Videos from TANDBERG
  • Video Conference Alberta
  • Videoconferencing Out on a Lim
  • VC Content Providers Database

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