Library stepping up technology with grant

First Posted: 9/30/2009

With the help of a grant, the Mount Airy Public Library has updated its computer section.
A technology grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has allowed the library to purchase six new computers with five more expected in the spring.
The foundation has been providing libraries with computers for a while. This was our last chance to do it because they are backing away from that, said Pat Gwyn, librarian.
The library participated in the grant several years ago, getting some of the technology that has been in use. For that phase of the grant, the foundation gave technology to libraries across the country. For this round, however, the libraries have had to provide some of the funding in order to show they will be able to handle the upkeep.
This grant spans two years. The first part of the grant brought in the six new computers that are already set-up. For those computers, the library had to provide 25 percent of the cost, around $3,000. The second phase of the grant will come in the spring with five more computers. The library will have to provide 50 percent of the funds for those computers, or $6,240.
Their intention is to replace old computers. We were operating on a lot of old computers, said Gwyn of why the library was chosen for the grant. Now they are saying we will help you come up, but then youre on your own.
In order to help raise those funds, the librarys board of directors will be donating part of the proceeds from book sales to the cause as well as hosting a raffle. The board is also asking for donations from the public to help complete the project. There will be a childrens book sale Nov. 7 and a regular book sale Nov. 11 through 14. Raffle tickets are on sale at the library with the drawing scheduled for Oct. 20. The prize for the raffle is a copy of Where the Wild Things Are as well as tickets for a family of four to see the film in theaters and refreshments.
The decision to revamp the computer area came after a space study completed about a year ago by the library staff. One of the recommendations to come out of the study was to move the computers to a central location. Previously, they were spread across the library because it was not originally designed to house computers.
Weve moved the catalogue computers to where the Internet ones used to be. Its taken care of some of the congestion at the front desk, said Gwyn. I think people will find the library quieter and the people using the Internet will be less distracted.
Because the library is still using some of the older machines, there are now 12 computers available, cutting down the need for reservations to use them as well as the wait time to have access. There is still a 30-minute time limit to use the Internet.
The library has set aside two computers specifically for those who are filling out job applications or who are taking online tests. These computers do not limit them to 30 minutes, meaning they will not risk losing their work. Patrons needing to use one of these machines should speak to someone at the front desk.
The library has also purchased a new printer which prints in color as well as in black and white. Printed copies run 25 cents each. The library provides Internet access for free to all of its patrons.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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