Millions of Americans use computers in public libraries on a daily basis to access essential information, engage in distant learning, apply for jobs and passports, or advertise their business. According to a recent study released by the Information Use Management and Policy Institute at Florida State University, 85% of libraries say they are not able to meet demand for computers at certain times of the day.
Stephanie Daniels, Director of the Hartford Public Library, understands this situation all too well. “I could speak for hours about the benefit we are giving to our local community through access to computers,” said Daniels. “As new technology emerges, many people turn to librarians for instruction. Our greatest benefit to the community is teaching our patrons how to manipulate and understand technology, especially those who don’t own a computer,” added Daniels, a 23-year veteran librarian.
Thanks to a generous gift from The Pokagon Fund, the Hartford Public Library recently expanded its technology capability through the creation of a Children’s Tech Center, adding six new computer workstations. “The new computers allow us to accommodate more people, especially during the summer when demand is at its peak,” explained Daniels.
Public libraries rely on public as well as private funds to meet the growing needs in their communities, which is the reason The Pokagon Fund over the past eight years has awarded a total of $34,000 in technology grants and over $43,000 in total grant funding to the Hartford Public Library. Libraries, especially those in rural communities, need support for ongoing costs including Internet access fees, technology upgrades and technical assistance.