Library Internet surfers get up to speed thanks to upgrades

July 17, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Internet users at the 81-year-old Blue Ridge Summit Free Library now can work on a system four times faster then it was following an upgrade, Librarian Nancy Bert said Tuesday.

"The patrons have already noticed the difference and are very happy with it," Bert said.

The St. Thomas Library in St. Thomas, Pa., and the Fulton County Library in McConnellsburg, Pa., also were upgraded recently. The improvements were funded in part through the federal E-rate program, a subsidy program that allows libraries and schools to receive telecommunications services and Internet access at a discounted rate.

Bert said the library has four computers with Internet access. "They are very popular with students who take classes at the International Masonry Institute at Fort Ritchie," she said. "They come from all over the country and use our library's computers for their e-mails."


The library also has a computer for use by children, she said. The library's catalogue system is also computerized.

The library in Blue Ridge Summit, an unincorporated community in Washington Township seven miles east of Waynesboro, Pa., serves patrons in four counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

"We're on the Mason-Dixon Line. We're a real community here," Bert said. "Our patrons come from Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania and Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland."

"This is a busy place," Bert said. "Last year the library circulated 27,444 items."

Until two years ago, the library was independent. State-mandated changes then required the library to hire a full-time librarian with a master's degree in library science, Bert said.

"We also would have had to be open 40 hours a week. We couldn't afford to do that," she said. The library is open 26 hours a week - from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

In 2001, it became a branch of the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro.

Bert started working in the library as a volunteer in 1975, became a paid assistant librarian in 1985 and in 1991 became branch manager. Deborah Heinecker is the assistant librarian.

The library runs on a budget of about $40,000 a year. Included in the total is $30,000 from the Waynesboro library. The other $10,000 pays for upkeep of the library building at 13676 Monterey Lane.

That money comes from an annual letter-writing fund-raiser that brings in about $7,000 and from the library's annual Ice Cream Social, which library officials hope brings in the rest.

The Ice Cream Social will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the library and surrounding grounds.

More than 1,000 books will be for sale, there will be live music, food stands and ice cream.

The Wayne Band from Waynesboro will play at 11 a.m. There will be events for children, including fire truck rides and a free magic show.

Local historian John McClellan will sign his new book, "Blue Ridge Summit: The Beginnings and the Counterfeiters."

For more information, call the library at 717-794-2240.

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