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Franklin County libraries get new computers

April 01, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Nora Long of Chambersburg said she hasn't had to wait in line for a computer since the Coyle Free Library opened its computer lab last week.

"I'm excited there are so many more computers. You can just walk in now," said Long, 27.

The library, at 102 N. Main St., Chambersburg, opened a 10-station computer lab March 20. It is stocked with flat-screen monitors and Pentium 4 processors supplied by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Four more computers are set up outside the lab for patrons when the lab is being used for training or classes, said Ricky Prado, a consultant for the Franklin County Library System.

The foundation announced last fall it would provide more than $112,000 worth of computers to county libraries as part of its effort to make computers more accessible to the public.

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Ragged Edge Library in Chambersburg, Fort Loudon Library, Blue Ridge Summit Free Library, Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro, Pa., and Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle, Pa., each received four computers and a laser printer. The St. Thomas Library got two computers and a laser printer.

Coyle Friends and the Afternoon Club supplied funds for computer furniture. Lab renovations to Coyle were made from local renovation and building maintenance funds.

The library shifted the collection of large-print books on the main floor and walled in a small room to serve as the lab.

"That way you can close the door and conduct training without disturbing the rest of the world," Prado said.

Each computer is equipped with high-speed Internet access and loaded with Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, Encarta software and Magic School Bus software. They are also equipped to operate in languages other than English.

"The new computers arrived at a great time. Librarians and customers were frustrated with long waiting periods for the modest number of computers available," said Bernice Crouse, executive director of the library system.

"Many of the computers purchased several years ago were on their last legs," she said.

The new computers freed up the library's existing computers to be used as online catalogs, word processors and "Marjory," the new genealogical work station named in honor of Coyle's reference assistant and genealogy research specialist Marjory Blubaugh.

"The response has been quite popular," Prado said. "The speed of the machines has been so much better compared to older machines."

Darren Brown, 22, of Chambersburg, agreed. "I'm impressed with the high speed of the computers. They are all fast and updated," he said Wednesday while doing research on one of the new computers.

Prado said once the staff is comfortable using the machines, his focus will shift to offering training to non-profit organizations and the public.

"I would love to offer classes on how to open an e-mail account and search the Internet," he said.

The library system also learned last week that it will receive a $42,000 state grant. The bulk of the funds will go to the new bookmobile that will debut later this spring, but nearly $9,000 will go to putting local genealogy records online, Prado said.

Organizations that would like to reserve the lab for group visits or have custom training for a group may contact the Reference Department at Coyle Free Library at 1-717-263-1054.

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