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New Macs would help ease demand at library

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With Chatham-Kent residents spending well over 100,000 hours on computers in public libraries, library staff believe it's high time to upgrade.

The Chatham-Kent Public Library wants to purchase six new Apple computers in an effort to allow patrons to expand their digital literacy skills as well as provide opportunities to share resources and knowledge.

“People in our community are interested in upgrading their skills and we also know that Macs are considered highly desirable,” said Tania Sharpe, the library's public services manager. “The Apple Mac computers allow a different level of creativity than a regular desktop (computer).”

Sharpe said the goal is to have one Mac computer in each of the main library branches, in Tilbury, Ridgetown, Wallaceburg, Dresden, Blenheim and Chatham.

Library patron Helen Hanak said she uses the library's computer stations weekly, even though she has her own computer at home. What draws her to the Queen Street branch is the library's quiet atmosphere.

“I'm more focused here,” she said. “Sometimes even if you have a home computer it's not as quick... And if you run into problems, you can ask the staff for help. I think it's a great asset for Chatham-Kent.”

Sharpe said in 2012, residents accessed the library public Internet stations for more than 76,750 hours. Residents also logged onto the library's wireless network for more than 41,000 hours. As well, over 36,000 ebooks were downloaded in 2012, which is up 142% from 2011. There were also over 248,000 visits to the library's website.

“People are becoming very adept at using the library software and programs to access information,” said Sharpe.

The library plans to hold a SparkIT Fun!raiser at Club Lentinas on Sept. 27 to help raise funds to purchase the Apple computers. The event will showcase a video launch, which will depict residents explaining why libraries are important to Chatham-Kent and how they keep everyone connected. There will also be a silent auction and those who attend will be entered into a door prize draw for an iPad. The tickets for the event will cost $50 and include a $25 tax receipt.

Sharpe said if the fundraising event is a success, the library plans to have the new Apple computers installed by 2014.

The next step coming in 2014 is to expand on the available technology at every branch, said Sharpe. The library is hopeful to eventually acquire a 3D printer, more iPads, Arduino kits for building electrical components and other creative technological tools.

“(It's important) to give people access to these different formats and these different technologies,” she said.

“What is the library about? Life-long learning and self education... So (let's) put the resources there so people can do it.”

 

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