The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library District has been approved for a Gates Foundation Grant to purchase 36 new public service computers for the branches over the next two years.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded libraries in selected states across the nation with matching grants for new and updated technology.
The Barry-Lawrence Regional Library will receive $59,800 over a two-year period, 2010 and 2011, for the purchase of computers for public access use through the Gates Foundation's Opportunity Online Hardware Grant. The total grant is $93,600 of which the library district is required to raise a total of $33,800 in matching funds.
Fundraising is currently underway with letter solicitations being mailed. Friends of Library groups in each of the communities are being encouraged to do at least one fundraiser to help with matching grant funds.
Usage of the internet computers has increased substantially in all of the branches over the past years, according to Jean Berg, library district director. A total of 65,651 users accessed the public computers for internet, searching databases provided by the library district, performing e-mail and word processing tasks and using library educational software.
The internet computers and the free access to technology has become one of the most frequently used services offered by the library district. According to Berg, many library users are no longer able to afford the monthly internet access charges in their homes and seek to use library computers for all of their computer needs.
One service that library staff members offer in the branch libraries is basic computer instruction. The branches will also teach patrons how to use a database, create an e-mail account, do a medical search and how to use Microsoft Office software.
Library users are taking practice tests on Learning Express software that is available free in all branches. Some of the tests used most frequently are tests for the military, civil service jobs, emergency medical services, nursing, real estate, GED, college entrance exams and U.S. citizenship preparation. Students of all ages are using the basic math, reading, writing and grammar tutorials that are available.
The computers will replace the library district's older public access computers. Aurora, Cassville, Marionville, Monett, Mt. Vernon and Pierce City branches will also receive Early Literacy Stations that are preloaded with a variety of imaginative software to encourage children of all ages to explore and discover their own learning adventures.
The library board is asking local communities to actively participate in donations for the matching grants fund. Those wishing to contribute can send a tax-deductible check to Barry-Lawrence Regional Library Computer Fund, 213 Sixth St., Monett, MO., 65708.