By Michael McNulty, European Regional Library Support CenterJuly 22, 2008
HEIDELBERG, Germany - Camp Victory in Iraq is nearly 2,000 miles from the nearest Army Library in Europe. But soldiers deployed at the sprawling base near Baghdad International Airport will soon have access to a broad spectrum of such resources via an e-Branch kiosk.
A team of movers packed and loaded the kiosk July 14 at the European Regional Library Support Center in Heidelberg, Germany, for shipment to Camp Victory, where it will be installed at the Victory Education Center.
"The kiosk will have a wonderful home here" said Staff Sgt. Jimmy Labas, education programs director at Victory Education Center.
Labas noted that the kiosk "offers a wonderful array knowledge and research capabilities" for all servicemembers assigned to the camp. "It truly is a key to success of Soldiers, Marines, (airmen) and (sailors) alike," he said. "We are becoming the leading education center in Iraq and are grateful to have such a useful tool."
Army Europe Libraries also have kiosks at the USO Pat Tillman Center, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan; the Warrior Transition Unit at Kleber Kaserne near U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, Germany; and the ERLSC in Heidelberg.
The e-Branch kiosks are designed to support educational opportunities for troops and deliver electronic library services and information to customers who can't get to a brick-and-mortar library.
The freestanding kiosks are quick and simple to use with touch-screen technology and pre-programmed buttons. The pre-programmed buttons mean that soldiers don't have to remember Web site addresses or search for information. They simply touch the buttons on the screen to go to news, sports, scholarly articles or 24/7 virtual reference services from military librarians.
Soldiers can also use the kiosks to access a wide selection of virtual library materials: online books; newspapers; journals; magazines; dictionaries; and encyclopedias. Additionally, customers can find free information on education, business, law, marriage and family, health and fitness, government, travel and other customized information.
The kiosks are not meant to duplicate what Internet cafes provide, such as quick access to e-mail and social networking sites. Rather they were designed to help bridge the gap of information, education and recreation services that Army libraries normally supply. "The kiosks are just one example of how Army Europe Libraries are attempting to reach out and enrich the quality of life for Soldiers, no matter where they are," said Meg Tulloch, Europe Region Librarian.
Richard Hanusey, a former Europe Region Librarian who died in 2004, earned the Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation's White Plume award in part for initiating the e-Branch Kiosk project. The White Plume recognizes outstanding service and contribution to MWR and family programs. It is the Army's highest medal for achievement in support of Army MWR endeavors.