read articles by year: All 2013 2012 2011 2010

January 29, 2013
To the rescue

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — For those adults out there who don’t know anything about computers, Public Library of Enid and Garfield County is coming to your rescue.

The library will offer free computer classes from 4-5 p.m. today, which will be continuing throughout the month of February, said Michelle Mears, library director. Classes generally will be offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

“We’ve always offered assistance and smaller computer-use classes, basic introduction to computers,” she said. “There are some who still have never done keyboard or mouse and many of them are asking for them. We decided to go with the flow and offer the classes they ask for.”

Among the classes will be one about e-books and how to check e-books out of the library. The library also will offer Facebook 101, so people can understand the settings of the social media website and how to protect their privacy. Another class to be offered is introduction to Microsoft Word for those typing a resume, she said.

“Many people don’t own their own computer and we’re the only place to go. We’re offering it free,” Mears said.

Computer usage is high at the library, which offers a bank of computers for individual use each day. Mears said an average day will see about 200 users. Customers may use the computer up to two hours daily. Many users come after school or after work, although lately, people have begun coming in when the library opens at 9 a.m. to get immediate use of a computer, she said.

“Some of those are job searches. One man didn’t know the first thing about using a computer and he was applying for a job. He had to do it by email to the company headquarters,” she said.

Mears also has considered increasing the size of the computer area, but there is no room. There is no place for network connections, plus the library would need cabling and electrical outlets it does not have. Many people are bringing their personal laptops to the library and using the free Wi-Fi service provided by the city of Enid. The library received a number of laptops from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to teach computer classes. Those laptops have 19-inch screens.

“I don’t even know if they actually are classified portable anymore. They’re huge, and better for training,” Mears said.

Although the February calendar is not available, she said classes start at about 4 p.m. Some classes may be later, but none will start later than 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. She said they try to catch more people by offering later classes.

Anyone interested in the classes should call the library reference desk at 616-7192 to sign up.

October 21, 2012
Internet access key library service

By Becky Brandenburg
Books & More
— On any given day, visitors stop by the Muskogee Public Library reference desk wanting to use the computers or connect to WiFi as a guest. They need to email friends and family about the road trip, the family funeral, wedding, job interview, furlough, appointment … that brought them through Muskogee and to the library’s door.

A few may become residents, new library members, your neighbors. Some become repeat visitors, dropping in the next time they drive through. Many we may never see again. But, this visit is our moment to shine, because internet access and providing assistance locating digitally-delivered resources is an important aspect of our service to the community.

According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, internet access is the most sought-after public library service and is used by more than half of all visitors. “We know that more than 100 million people do not have broadband access at home,” IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth said in September.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project report, released in March 2011, indicates that 30 percent of all library users seeking information online are use both their cell phones AND computers to access information from their public library — WiFi and broadband. Using these technologies to gain authoritative information reflects one aspect of the changing role of the public library and its relationship to its users.

Thanks to funds awarded to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (Broadband Technology Opportunities program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009), and funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Muskogee Public Library will benefit from increased broadband speed and capacity in the future.

Overcoming existing infrastructure and ensuring our ability to sustain this investment and the demand for access is imperative. Improved technology, access and service by knowledgeable, capable staff are our goal. Our visitors and MPL patrons-in-the-know understand that the Public Library as an institution is a universal constant.

The Public Library serves as conduit for information, as facilitator to access, respite, diversion, home away from home. Its doors are open and all are welcome.

The newspapers are current, the reference collection is reliable, the books are relevant, and audio, video and ebooks are accessible, whether on a physical or digital shelf, just a click away. Library users know that information is at the ready and that professional librarians are dogged problem-solvers, so they ask:

Where do I find …? How do I …? Who should I talk to about … ? Do you have a book about …? Can you recommend an ebook for …? Could you help me learn, locate, copy, fax, email, post, print, …?

Of course we can. We are the public’s library.

 

August 26, 2012
New tutoring and job preparation tools now available at Stillwater Public Library

STILLWATER, OKLA. / Aug. 27, 2012 – Students and job hunters have helpful new resources available to them at the Stillwater Public Library.  Through the OK Connect grant it received last year, the library received two databases, “Brainfuse HelpNow” and “Brainfuse JobNow.”  Both databases are free and available for use inside the library and for people outside the library with a Stillwater Public Library card.

“The library is committed to providing virtual, cutting edge services that give our patrons every opportunity to succeed,” said Lynda Reynolds, library director.  “Our two new databases will give those opportunities to students and job hunters.”

HelpNow is a comprehensive set of online academic services designed to support many learning styles from elementary students to adult learners.  It provides live, online help from qualified tutors who can assist with homework questions, essay writing and building academic skills.

HelpNow is available 24 hours a day and live tutoring is available from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Its tutors are based in the United States and undergo background checks, must possess a four-year degree, and have prior teaching/tutoring experience.  Tutors can assist on most all subjects from kindergarten math to college physics.

“The highlight of HelpNow is obviously the live tutoring,” said Reynolds.  “But it also includes practice standardized tests and collaborative classrooms where students can meet to study for tests, work on homework assignments, or collaborate on projects.”

JobNow is a similar database geared for job seekers.  It includes tools for finding jobs, building a resume and practicing for job interviews.

“JobNow is an amazing resource for people looking for jobs,” said Reynolds.  “If there is one resource I would use for a job search, other than Workforce Oklahoma, it would be this database, because you have live, expert help in constructing resumes and practicing for interviews.  We can offer programs like this every few months in the library, but JobNow offers it to you every day.”

JobNow live assistance is available from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. each day.  Live job coaches are available to answer questions about interviews and help participants brush up on their interview skills.  The JobNow resume lab lets jobseekers submit a resume and receive expert analysis within 24 hours.

HelpNow and JobNow are available on the library website database page at http://library.stillwater.org/database.html.

For more information, visit the library’s website at http://library.stillwater.org, call the library Help Desk at (405) 372-3633, ext. 106 or email askalibrarian@stillwater.org.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

August 17, 2012
Fall library finds

By ROB W. ANDERSON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — The library is a welcome respite during the hot summer, and as children return to school, local librarians are adjusting schedules and planning new programs.

The Hulbert Community Public Library started its new business hour schedule Aug. 11, said Branch Director Melinda Webb.

“The change was to make it more convenient for the patrons,” she said.

The new hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 12:30 to  5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; and Saturday 9 a.m. to noon.

“The only thing that has changed with us is the hours,” said Webb. “Right now, [program changes] are just kind of on hold. There’s not anything that’s been scheduled for sure, because my supervisor has been out sick for a month or so. I’d love to have it where my schedule is planned all year, but right now, that’s where we’re standing.”

Webb said the Friends of the Library recently purchased a popcorn machine for the Hulbert branch, and regular visitors can look forward to possibly a monthly event for students after school.

The Tahlequah Public Library does not have any changes in its operating hours, but recently installed a high-definition television and camera unit that will provide video conferencing capability when the site’s broadband level is increased.

“It’s part of the OK Connect grant. It looks great in the new meeting room,” said Library Manager Robin Mooney. “We won’t be using the actual video conferencing capability right now, because our broadband is low, but we hope that in the next few months that will get done. It’s a slow process, because there are a lot of different entities involved with trying to get it done. We used it the other night during the Living Green program. You can hook a laptop to it and have that connected to the monitor. I’m sure, in the future, as we get it going with the video conferencing, that it will have a lot of uses for people. I’ve gone to some conferences about that. OK Connect had a big conference statewide and it was amazing what they use it for.”

The video-conferencing unit, which was made possible through the grant provided by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, could be used in a group setting for meeting purposes, or in varied individual settings, such as one-on-one consultation with a medical professional.

“Instead of clients having to go to Oklahoma City, they could come and do video-conferencing and get one-on-one help that way,” said Mooney. “Within the last several months, we adjusted the meeting room policy, because we realize these were changes we needed to make so it could be used by individuals for those types of needs.”

Mooney said the next project on the wish list involves electrical work for the broadband project.

“We hope the electrician’s going to come soon to do some digging and then be able to put the equipment in,” she said. “It’s all in trying to fit the different parts together and what we learn from a state level that’s kind of trickling down to us. That’s what we hope is the next step. We got the bids out and sent them in to OneNet, who is the provider for the board of regents, and we’re just kind of waiting until we hear back.”

Ongoing events at the library include the Movies at the Library program, which will be showing the “Hunger Games” this Saturday at 10 a.m. as part of the popular book series DVD release. A second viewing will be held Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m., during the regular Movies at the Library schedule. The final movie of the summer program will be held Tuesday, Aug. 28.

“It’s also based on a book,” said Mooney. “It’s interesting that all of the movies that we’ve shown this month just happened to be book-related. The one we showed earlier in the month was ‘The Lorax,’ and, of course, the ‘Hunger Games.’ The last one is a movie based on one of Nicholas Sparks’ books. I think it’s ‘The Lucky One,’ if I have that right.”

Events scheduled for September include the adult computer classes, Sept. 11; Living Green Series on reducing energy use, Sept. 20; tie-dye craft time, Sept. 25; and a six-week course on American Sign Language which begins Sept. 27.

Mooney said those interested in participating in the tie-dye class or the American Sign Language course need to pre-register by either signing the respective class list at the library, or calling the circulation desk with a request to be added to the list.

October events include the Friends of the Library book sale, Oct. 4-6; the final session in the Living Green Series, plastic-free living, Oct. 18; and the annual pumpkin decorating contest, Oct. 23.

 

March 19, 2012
Library hosts ribbon cutting for new computer lab

SHAWNEE, Okla.  —  

The Shawnee Public Library and the Greater Shawnee Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting and reception for its new Computer Training Center from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the library, 101 N. Philadelphia Ave.

The computer lab is part of the OK Connect program, which has aided many libraries in the state with technology upgrades. The Ok Connect project was funded by a grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies, and is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

The Shawnee Public Library’s grant also was made possible with help from a number of local partners, including the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the City of Shawnee, the Greater Shawnee Chamber of Commerce, the Shawnee Friends of the Library, Shawnee Public Schools and the Shawnee Rescue Mission.

The ribbon cutting and reception are free and open to the public.

For more information, call the library at 275-6353 or go online to www.justsoyouknow.us/shawnee.

January 29, 2012
To the rescue

ENID — For those adults out there who don’t know anything about computers, Public Library of Enid and Garfield County is coming to your rescue.

The library will offer free computer classes from 4-5 p.m. today, which will be continuing throughout the month of February, said Michelle Mears, library director. Classes generally will be offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

“We’ve always offered assistance and smaller computer-use classes, basic introduction to computers,” she said. “There are some who still have never done keyboard or mouse and many of them are asking for them. We decided to go with the flow and offer the classes they ask for.”

Among the classes will be one about e-books and how to check e-books out of the library. The library also will offer Facebook 101, so people can understand the settings of the social media website and how to protect their privacy. Another class to be offered is introduction to Microsoft Word for those typing a resume, she said.

“Many people don’t own their own computer and we’re the only place to go. We’re offering it free,” Mears said.

Computer usage is high at the library, which offers a bank of computers for individual use each day. Mears said an average day will see about 200 users. Customers may use the computer up to two hours daily. Many users come after school or after work, although lately, people have begun coming in when the library opens at 9 a.m. to get immediate use of a computer, she said.

“Some of those are job searches. One man didn’t know the first thing about using a computer and he was applying for a job. He had to do it by email to the company headquarters,” she said.

Mears also has considered increasing the size of the computer area, but there is no room. There is no place for network connections, plus the library would need cabling and electrical outlets it does not have. Many people are bringing their personal laptops to the library and using the free Wi-Fi service provided by the city of Enid. The library received a number of laptops from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to teach computer classes. Those laptops have 19-inch screens.

“I don’t even know if they actually are classified portable anymore. They’re huge, and better for training,” Mears said.

Although the February calendar is not available, she said classes start at about 4 p.m. Some classes may be later, but none will start later than 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. She said they try to catch more people by offering later classes.

Anyone interested in the classes should call the library reference desk at 616-7192 to sign up.

January 19, 2012
Stillwater Public Library upgrading technology with grant

By Ricky O'Bannon
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater Public Library is looking forward to offering users faster Internet and better technology thanks to grant money from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries received a $2.3 million grant last summer from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to upgrade broadband connections and computers at 44 Oklahoma libraries around the state. The money was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the 2009 stimulus. Oklahoma Department of Libraries received a $1 million matching grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Stillwater's library was one of those selected to benefit from the grant. Library Director Lynda Reynolds said she is expecting to see the library get its bandwidth upgrade in the coming weeks. Reynolds told members of the Library Board Tuesday that the boost will increase the speed from 10 MB per second to 100 MB.

As another part of the grant, Stillwater Public Library is upgrading its computer lab.

One service the lab can offer is video conferencing equipment. That equipment is also part of the grant.

August 11, 2011
Library to offer Netbook computers for checkout

The Shawnee Public Library is adding to its services for library customers, giving them the ability to check out a Netbook laptop computer.

The library has six circulating Netbook computers for home use as part of a pilot project started by the Pioneer Library System. The computers may be checked out for seven days.
Checkouts can be made for customers ages 18 and up whose library account is in good standing.

Only one computer may be checked out a time per library card, and checkouts are done on a first-come, first-served basis, with no reservations or requests taken.

Each Netbook is equipped with Microsoft operating software and built in Wi-Fi Internet. Additional software may not be installed or downloaded by customers.
 
Returns must be made directly to a staff member in the library where the computer was checked out. User data will be deleted before the next checkout.

Fines for returning the computer late are $10 a day up to a maximum of $50.

Also, charges for lost, stolen or damaged equipment could apply if the computer is not returned in the condition it was checked out.

The computers were made available thanks to a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

“Library staff is excited to be able to offer this new service to our customers,” said Branch Manager Karen Bays.

June 24, 2011
Bartlesville library to lend netbooks

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - The Bartlesville library will soon be loaning not only books, but netbooks — small, portable computers capable of basic word processing, spreadsheet and slide show generating, Internet surfing and other tasks.

Thanks to grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and federal stimulus funds, Bartlesville Public Library will have five netbooks to lend to Bartlesville library card holders.

The grant funding will also bring upgrades to the library that within the next few months will increase the speed of the library’s Internet connection and by next year will enable the library to host video conferences.

Beginning July 5, under a new policy recently adopted by the library board concerning the new computers, adult library card holders in good standing with the library will be able to borrow netbooks for seven days.

The library policy on netbook lending requires a photo ID be produced at the time of the lending and that the computers be returned in person to a staff member at the circulation desk, not to any book drop.

The fine rate for unreturned registered netbooks will $5 per day, excluding days the library is closed, according to lending rules.

According to the policy the computers may be reserved in advance, but may only be renewed in person at the library's circulation desk provided there are no reservations on the units.

A copy of the full netbook policy will be provided at the time of check-out.

Those desiring more information may contact the library at 918-338-4161.

Read more: http://www.kjrh.com/dpp/bartlesvillelive/bartlesville-library-to-lend-netbooks#ixzz2dMcyHuj2

June 10, 2011
Chickasaw Regional (Public) Library System Upgrades Its Internet

Libraries to upgrade computing capabilities: Thanks to a national grant program, internet users at the Ardmore Public Library and five branches of the Chickasaw Regional (Public) Library System will see a dramatic increase in online access speeds as early as next year, Page 1.

Copyright 2011 The Daily Ardmoreite. Some rights reserve

February 25, 2011
Fairview City Library to get high-speed Internet

By Jim Wilkinson, Fairview correspondent
Enid News and Eagle

FAIRVIEW — A Fairview delegation attended the OK Connect Meeting in Oklahoma City recently to learn about Oklahoma’s broadband project. At that time the team learned of a grant received from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

The NTIA grant was $2.3 million.

A matching grant of $1 million was received from the Gates Foundation for a total of $3.3 million to become available to Oklahoma Libraries. Various partners in OK Connect, including Fairview City Library, will share in the award.

Librarian Ernestine Titus advised Fairview will benefit from the grant, as it will increase the library’s high speed broadband capabilities. In addition, high speed video conferencing capabilities will be available by 2012.

“Our library has seven computers available for public use at the present time,” Titus said. She went on to say the computers are in constant use by citizens who are getting an education online, applying for jobs and for research. The computers are in constant demand by students working on public school assignments to complete their homework.

Titus said one woman is coming to the library and working on completing her master’s degree online. This service also is available through the help of George Williams, a local citizen, who volunteers his time to assist in the operation and maintenance of the computers. Training for library employees will soon be available through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries due to the expected increase in public

Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program said the new, improved broadband service will deliver valuable online service opportunities for the public. Nishi also stated the award is expected to provide an understanding of the importance of investing in public technology access.

 

January 2, 2011
Tahlequah Public Library - General Computer Links

A branch of the Eastern Oklahoma District Library System. tpl banner ... Oklahoma Broadband Interactive Map. *OKConnect used to be referred to as BTOP*
tahlequah.lib.ok.us/OKConnectTechCenter.htm

December 25, 2010
Library Board discusses OK Connect

Derrick Miller - The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — A statewide effort to increase Internet speed and accessibility could help library patrons improve in several of the state’s lowest ranked areas.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Duncan Public Library Board, Library Director Jan Cole talked about the OkConnect program, which bring high speed capabilities to the library and will increase the speed of the library’s Internet connection. This will also help the library get high speed video conferencing capabilities by 2012, which will be library patrons access to special software.

“It will connect rural Oklahomans,” Cole said. “They will run more fibers to those areas.”

She said the Internet would be faster and would better serve people in rural communities.

Cole said OkConnect has four pillars of focus. Those pillars include education, health, employment and e-government.

“We’re just trying to improve the quality of life for Oklahomans,” Cole said.

She said these were the areas chosen for focus by the program because Oklahoma is low ranked in all of the areas. Cole said the state is working to improve its ratings in the four areas.

“One of the goals is to make Oklahoma into a state where there’s more people with bachelor’s degrees or higher,” Cole said.

She said some of the ratings surprised her.

“Health was one of the most startling statistics for me. Oklahoma is one of the poorest health states.”

Cole said another pillar to focus on employment will help people with career building and will offer help on résumé assistance.

She said there is also a needed focus on e-goverment because many forms are available largely online. By speeding up the Internet access, people will have an easier time getting the forms they need downloaded.

“It’s part of a federal stimulus program that’s actually working,” Cole said.

— Derrick Miller is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. He can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 144, or via e-mail at derrick.miller@duncanbanner.com.

 

December 20, 2010
High speed Internet coming to Sallisaw Library

Internet users at Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in Sallisaw will see a dramatic increase in access speed as early as next year thanks to a national grant project, Susan McVey, Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) director, said.

The high-speed broadband capabilities will increase the library’s Internet connection speed from 1.5 megabytes per second to 50 megabytes per second.

On top of that, the library will have high speed video conferencing capabilities by 2012, and library users will have access to special learning and career software to help students with homework, and assist job seekers with résumé creation, interviewing skills and job testing, McVey said.

ODL will also facilitate training for the Sallisaw library staff, and assist with the library’s annual federal E-Rate application to secure discounts for ongoing telecommunications services.

Bethia Owens, county librarian, and the members of the Eastern Oklahoma District Library System (EODLS) attended a project launch event in Oklahoma City last week to learn more about Oklahoma’s public library broadband program, OkConnect.

Participants heard presentations from state officials and national partners, networked with other participating libraries, and brainstormed ideas on how OkConnect can make a difference in the lives of citizens, McVey said.

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries received the major grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) last July to upgrade broadband and computing capabilities at 44 public libraries around the state, McVey said.

NTIA awarded the state $2.3 million through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in 2009. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing matching funds and in kind services worth $1million, bringing the total to $3.3 million to implement the improvements in Oklahoma, McVey said.

“We were thrilled to receive the grant. High speed access and new equipment will open up a host of educational and economic opportunities for these communities, and provide easier access to health and government information,” McVey said.

OkConnect project director Vicki Mohr said the libraries and their communities are ready to embrace this technology.

“The libraries see it as a major advantage in terms of educational offerings and economic development,” Mohr said.

“With this equipment, small businesses could communicate globally with their partners, conduct online interviews with potential employees, and attend training sessions without having to leave town. Local citizens could sign-up for online college courses. It can be a boon for distance education in these communities,” Mohr said.

McVey said Oklahoma’s successful grant application would not have been possible without the assistance of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Their partnership with ODL made all the difference,” she said.

Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program, said federal investments in connecting libraries to high-quality Internet service and technology are critical to realizing the universal broadband access America needs.

“When libraries provide broadband to communities, they can deliver valuable online opportunities that help people find jobs, further their education, and access important government information,” Nishi said. “We hope that this award will help public and private funders to understand the importance of investing in public technology access at Oklahoma’s libraries.”
In addition to the 44 public library sites, other key partners in OkConnect include the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Hearts for Hearing, local city governments, and library friends groups.

Five other EODLS libraries—in Eufaula, Grove, Muskogee, Tahlequah and Westville—are also receiving high-speed broadband Internet and video conferencing capabilities through the grant.

December 18, 2010
Oklahoma Department of Libraries

Friends--
Many of you have asked for copies of the OkConnect Project Launch Video
that was shown on December 9 in Oklahoma City. We are making copies of
the video on CD to distribute to you by year's end or early next year;
but in the meantime, you can view the video on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbBi9EWRG_w

You can also find the video by searching "OkConnect Project Launch" or
"Oklahoma Libraries BTOP" or something similar on YouTube.

Also, let me know if you have been successful in getting the news out to
your community via the press release, or if you need any other
assistance. I know a couple of you have expressed an interest in
releasing the news after the New Year to avoid it getting lost in all of
the Christmas hubbub. Whatever you decide, please keep us posted, and
give us a ring if we can help.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

--by

William R. Young
Public Information Officer
Oklahoma Department of Libraries
200 N.E. 18th Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73105
w: 405-522-3562
c: 405-370-3750

December 17, 2010
High-speed Internet coming to Durant’s Public Library

Internet users at the Robert L. Williams Public Library will see a dramatic increase in access speed as early as next year thanks to a national grant project. High speed broadband capabilities will increase the library’s Internet connection speed from 1.5 megabytes per second to 100 mbps.

On top of that, the library will have high speed video conferencing capabilities by 2012, and library users will have access to special learning and career software to help students with homework, and assist job seekers with résumé creation, interviewing skills and job testing.

Representatives from the library and the Durant community attended a project launch event in Oklahoma City last week to learn more about Oklahoma’s public library broadband program, OkConnect.

Participants heard presentations from state officials and national partners, networked with other participating libraries, and brainstormed ideas on how OkConnect can make a difference in the lives of citizens.

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) received the major grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration last July to upgrade broadband and computing capabilities at 44 public libraries around the state.

NTIA awarded the state $2.3 million through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in 2009. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing matching funds and in kind services worth $1million, bringing the total to $3.3 million to implement the improvements in Oklahoma.

“We were thrilled to receive the grant,” ODL Director Susan McVey said. “High speed access and new equipment will open up a host of educational and economic opportunities for these communities, and provide easier access to health and government information.”

OkConnect project director Vicki Mohr said the libraries and their communities are ready to embrace this technology.

“The libraries see it as a major advantage in terms of educational offerings and economic development,” Mohr said. “With this equipment, small businesses could communicate globally with their partners, conduct online interviews with potential employees, and attend training sessions without having to leave town. Local citizens could sign-up for online college courses. It can be a boon for distance education in these communities.”

McVey said Oklahoma’s successful grant application would not have been possible without the assistance of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Their partnership with ODL made all the difference,” she said.

Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Gates Foundation’s U.S. Libraries program, said federal investments in connecting libraries to high-quality Internet service and technology are critical to realizing the universal broadband access America needs.

“When libraries provide broadband to communities, they can deliver valuable online opportunities that help people find jobs, further their education, and access important government information,” Nishi said. “ We hope that this award will help public and private funders to understand the importance of investing in public technology access at Oklahoma’s libraries.”

In addition to the 44 public library sites, other key partners in OkConnect include the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Hearts for Hearing, local city governments, and library friends groups.

ODL will also facilitate training for the Durant library staff, and assist with the library’s annual federal E-Rate application to secure discounts for ongoing telecommunications services.
© durantdemocrat.com 2010