The Madison County Public Library recently scored a serendipity – or fortunate discovery by accident -- when it unexpectedly received a grant that will update its technology.
The grant, administered by the Metropolitan Austin Interactive Network (MAIN), Austin Free-Net and the Texas Connects Coalition, provides 16 new computers to the library through 2013. Two of the new computers will be fully handicapped-accessible.
“The goal is to make computers available for people trying to find jobs,” said Library Director Veronica Grooms. “We have a small but busy library, and we have people waiting to use the computers. We don’t have enough computers, and this will give us plenty to service the community.”
Grooms said she didn’t know the library had been included in the grant until she received notice it had been awarded.
The money comes from a $9.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Texas Connects Coalition is using the money statewide to enhance 70 public computer centers and provide computer access, technical support, digital literacy, workforce development and other services to low-income and vulnerable populations.
Grooms said the Brazos Valley Council of Governments had applied for federal stimulus money and included all the area libraries, public housing facilities and workforce development centers – including those in Madisonville.
The grant for the library includes the computers and monitors, as well as surge protectors, headsets, routers, keyboards, mice, optical enhancers, adjustable-height desks for the handicapped-accessible computers, and a laserjet printer.
The library must acquire its own desks for all the computers that are not handicapped-accessible.
Also, a variety of software will be provided, including Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, Flash, Java, Shockwave, QuickTime, Acrobat Reader and several anti-viruses.
Grooms said the grant also pays for a person to perform 20 hours a month of free computer classes that will be useful to the community. Classes can be tailored to fit the needs of participants, from basic computer and Internet to job searching and job applications.
Currently, the library has nine computers that were purchased less than two years ago. Grooms said she doesn’t want to replace them yet, so the grant will immediately add seven additional computers, including the two handicapped-accessible computers.
The remaining nine new computers purchased by the grant can be added any time before Aug. 31, 2013, which is when the grant expires. Grooms said the first seven computers would be installed in March.
Madison County Commissioner Sam Cole, Precinct 4, said he is pleased with the grant and the addition of 16 new computers to the library. The Madison County Commissioners Court approved a memorandum of understanding with the Texas Connects Coalition at its meeting on Feb. 28.
“With the way things are economically today, any time we can get a grant for things like this is a great thing,” Cole said. “These new computers will help both the library and the community, and that’s a wonderful thing.”