NB Library receives grant

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By Heather Wilson

The New Boston Public Library recently became one of only five libraries out of over 1500 in the state to be chosen to receive the Library Technology Academy Grant, sponsored by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  This $10,000 project-based training grant uses both online and in-person training to enable library staff the tools they need to support technology planning and management.  In addition to the $10,000 awarded for purchase of materials and services for the library, another $1,000 granted for travel expenses will allow library director Chris Woodrow and assistant director Stacey Muckleroy to attend a two day information and training seminar in Austin.  There they will make a projected improvement plan on how to use the grant funds.
To qualify for this grant, the library had to meet certain criteria:  it must be an accredited library through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, serve less than 25,000 people, and show a need for improvements to technology and technological services.  Library director Chris Woodrow says the New Boston Library meets this criteria easily.  “Even when you consider that we serve surrounding communities as well, we are still well under 25,000,” said Woodrow.  “And our area is underserved.  The only places to get WI-FI here locally are McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, and NBISD estimates that only 25% of our school children have internet access in their homes.  The need here is great.”
Assistant director Stacey Muckleroy agrees that the need is great, and that much good use can be put to grant funds.  “These funds will allow the librarians to have a more hands-on approach to technology and technology issues,” she said.  “We plan to upgrade security, user access, buy equipment, and purchase both hard and software upgrades.”
Currently, the library offers patrons access to five computing stations with internet access, printing, and faxing.  However, the computers are four years old, with dated operating systems and limited software options.  Most patrons use these workstations to perform basic functions such as checking email, access and apply for jobs, and check state benefit websites.  Librarians say they will also look into the option of tablets that will perform these basic functions, without the necessity for expensive software.

Woodrow and Muckleroy will attend their training seminar in Austin next month, and say that once training is completed, they are ready to hit the ground running with their improvement projects.  Muckleroy said, only half-jokingly, “We have until June 2019 to spend our grant funds, but I may have it spent in two days!”

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