This is not your father’s library. When Dad and Mom were kids and went to the public library, they came back with books — and that was about it.
Today patrons can borrow music on CDs and movies on DVDs. They can look for job openings or get in contact with a range of helpful human services. They can sit down at a computer keyboard to check their email or do other things online.
Now the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will help members connect with an entirely different kind of technology — an air monitor devised by Carnegie Mellon University to measure the level of air-particulate pollution in their home. The program will allow library patrons to take the device home for three weeks and test indoor air quality.
The unit is called Speck and can be purchased by anyone for $199 from the Pittsburgh spinoff company Airviz Inc. (the original version of the device sells for $149). Library members can use it for free, though, since all 19 Carnegie branches will have them soon. Airviz is so eager to let the breathing public sample the technology that it plans to offer the monitors to 100 libraries across the country.
Thanks to CMU’s smarts and Airviz’s generosity, air quality testing is no longer the exclusive realm of environmental scientists. There are a lot of things in the air, even at home, that can hurt the people who live there. Now all a person has to do is flash a library card, borrow a Speck and check the numbers in the comfort of one’s living room. Or kitchen. Or game room. Or ...