By Jan Rahn
Installation of three new computers at Hastings Memorial Library mid-August enhances service to patrons.
The new computers replace older, outdated units, bringing the total number of desktop computers to six, as well as an in-house laptop.
The new equipment was purchased with a grant through the Nebraska Library Commission. A grant of over $3.6 million was made available to 147 public library locations across the state—Hastings Memorial Library was the recipient of approximately $4,540 of that sum.
The new computer units are equipped with Windows and Office software, detachable web cams and headphones; one black and white laser jet printer, and one projector to be used for library presentations or by community members using the library’s community room for events.
Robin Quinn, who has been at the helm as library director for four years, said grant eligibility was based on each community’s local median income, ethnic population and local broadband capabilities. She submitted the necessary information to qualify for the grant which targets communities for promotion, development and coordination of library and information services.
“Receiving this broadband technology grant has allowed us to upgrade our computer center in a way that would not have been financially possible otherwise,” said Quinn. “While the library is delighted to have the up-to-date equipment, the real benefit goes to our patrons who will have faster, easier computer access for their personal, educational, and job-related needs.”
According to Quinn, the computers available at the library are used an average of 240 times per month.
Besides books, audio books and computers, the library offers magazines and a growing collection of videos and DVDs available for checkout.
Additionally, a service called Overdrive allows patrons to check out eBooks and audio books and download them to MP3 players and eReaders.
Quinn said they anticipate increased interest in this service when it is enhanced by another addition this fall—Amazon Kindle eReader.
Coming This Fall
• The library will switch to a new internet-based circulation system early this fall.
“It will be much more user friendly and will allow patrons to access the library catalog online from home,” said Quinn.
• The industrial arts class under the direction of Marlin Terwilliger at the high school will build two new shelving units go provide space for a growing collection at the library.
• On the agenda for September is story time for preschoolers. Quinn said she and assistant librarian Reeka Erlewine are measuring interest from parents in starting a public family story time as well.
• There is an ongoing Monday afternoon book club for adults, and based on interest, they are looking into starting a second book club.
• The carpet will be replaced in the community room in the near future. This project is being funded by a combination of community donations and the existing library budget.
• Amazon’s Kindle eReader will join the list of supported devices.
Hastings Memorial Library at the corner of 5th and Central is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1:30-5:30 p.m.
The library is open Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon.
The library’s board members include Brenda Styskal, Larry Peterson, Donna Mayer, Ron Krause and Jeff Wallin.
Facts About the Project
• The grant project makes broadband service available to low-income, aged and other under served or economically at-risk populations in the state.
• The Nebraska Library Commission proposes to enhance technological capabilities and support at 147 public library locations statewide housing public computer centers.
• The project proposes to upgrade broadband access at 45 public computer centers, deploy more than 600 new workstations and upgrade another 475 at the 147 public library locations.
• Enable access for as many as 13,300 weekly users at libraries and increase the average speeds available at public centers statewide.
• Train as many as 42,700 residents with approximately 384,500 hours of training over the three years of the project.
• Partners for the project besides the 147 library buildings receiving grants include: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Center for Rural Affairs, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Central Community College, Nebraska Court Administrator’s Office, National Network of Libraries of Medicine—MidContinental Region, Nebraska Community Foundation, Nebraska Department of Labor, UNL-Extension, UNMC-McGoogan Library of Medicine.