How to Avoid Tripping Over Technology at the Library

A mess of cords

Incident report forms: everyone knows about them, and everyone hates them. The real tragedy about them, however, is that the incident you are sitting there writing about (all the while cursing to yourself in your head) was most likely preventable. "But Rachael," you ask, "what do incident report forms have to do with technology?" Well, I'll tell you.

Stand up and take a walk around your library right now and tell me what you see. I'll wait. … Are you back? Good, then what you probably noticed was all those cords you made sure to dodge as you were walking around just now.

Yup, those very cords are the ones that caused one of your patrons to trip, sprain an ankle, and then need an ambulance because it hurt too much to walk. Oh, and guess who is left to fill out the incident report form — that's right, Y.O.U. "But Rachael," you say, "isn't that the cost of doing business with all this new technology?" Well, it is and it isn't; allow me to explain.

Cords Aren't Always Necessary

We've been assuming that the cords come with the territory. However, as with many problems, there are entrepreneurs who've been seeking solutions. One of those solutions is under-carpet power, and many libraries are starting to take advantage of this new technology.

With under-carpet power, you have the convenience of a power-strip, but it's under the carpet and you can have the outlets pop up where you want them. The cables are flat, and they can be put under your existing carpet with very little bulging.

Imagine how much happier the patrons would be if they didn't have to fight for a place to plug in their equipment. I'm not here to promote one company over another; I'm just here to let you know that there are solutions out there.

Making Libraries Safer

As I write my San Jose State University iSchool e-Portfolio this semester, I am reminded that we are ethically bound to provide a safe place for our patrons. One of the ways we can do this is by researching ways to improve the environment that we provide for them. Imagine how much nicer your library would look too if you didn't see extension cords everywhere.

There would also be a lot less extension cord daisy chain activity. Seriously, I've seen three power cords linked together just so someone could have power at one of the comfy chairs we have in our library. Not only is that a tripping hazard, it's a very serious OSHA no-no because it's a major fire hazard.

Think about it — if the library's closer doesn't unplug all those linked power strips at the end of the night, you might not have a library in the morning. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to be the one to have to write up that form.

Further Reading

There has been a lot of momentum for this new power system, and companies are clamoring to get their particular system implemented. A lot of these companies offer consultations and are willing to work with you to get exactly the right fit for your library. Plenty of great articles have been written about this new trend; here are a few of them:


How does your library deal with organizing wires and cords? Share your strategies with us in the comments.

About Rachael Davis

I have been a part-time student in the MLIS program at SJSU for longer than I care to share, but I am happy to say that I am currently enrolled in the final course of the program! Part of the reason for it taking so long is because I also have full-time jobs as a circulation manager, a mother to both a human and a Vizsla (if you have a Vizsla, you know what I'm talking about), and as a wife. I love how libraries feel and love finding old cookbooks. I can't wait to try out my new degree and see where it takes me in life.

Image: Ianqui Doodle / CC BY-NC-ND