Enlarge / Three students—Jarquiese McCaskey, Jaquan Hawkins and Zaylan Randolph—hold computers as they enter the school library where they will attempt to do work on laptops with very limited Internet access.

As testing time for students is ongoing this time of year, students at Monroe Intermediate School in Lower Peach Tree, Alabama are at a disadvantage as Internet capabilities at the school are limited. (credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
As cloud computing has become an integral part of the lives of students at public schools, it has increased the importance of a place generations of students have turned to for much more analog learning needs—the library.
Both public and school libraries have always been a source of information for students.

And while the Internet has undoubtedly changed the way students do research, cloud-based tools have actually evolved the library’s role rather than diminished it. Public computers at libraries have become an extension of the classroom, and they’re an important resource for children who don’t have unfettered access to broadband Internet at home.

The cloud has only made those public computers more effective.
I’ve seen the change happen myself—my place of employment, a public library in the Washington DC-area, offers 27 Linux stations for youth and adults to use seven days a week.

Before the cloud became popular, students asked for help saving their homework to USB Flash drives or frantically tried to e-mail their partially-completed homework during the last minutes of a computer session.

Things would get ugly fast—students lost work far too often, and many rationally concluded that library computers were unsuitable for doing homework.
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