Press-Republican

September 1, 2010

New computer center coming to Plattsburgh Public Library

Computer Center programs to include work force skills

By DAN HEATH
Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — Plans call for the Plattsburgh Public Library Jobs and Computer Center to open Oct. 13.

Center Director Janelle Shephard said that's dependent on several factors, such as renovation of the Brinkerhoff Room, installation of the 14 computers that have been ordered and acquisition of software licenses.

"We've got a lot to do," she said.

STIMULUS FUNDS

The center is funded through a $244,517 grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Broadband and Technology Opportunity Program.

Plans call for a new wall to separate the room into two sections.

The rear will be classroom oriented and will house the computer work stations.

The front will have tables where customers will be able to access the library's Wi-Fi service.

TRAINING PROGRAMS

Shephard said one of the tasks ahead is to hire an assistant director. They will work together to offer basic to advanced computer training.

That includes introduction to the Internet and tips on using it to help with job searches, resume-writing workshops, development of interview skills, help with using Microsoft Word and other programs and counseling for those who receive Social Security benefits and are concerned with what would happen if they enter the workforce.

The center will also provide access to high-speed Internet.

30 LIBRARIES

The Broadband Program was recommended by the New York State Council for Universal Broadband, working with the New York State Education Department.

The grant is administered by the Education Department through the New York State Library, with approval by both the State Senate and Assembly.

Plattsburgh is one of 30 library systems across the state to receive funding.

PRAISE FOR PROGRAM

A number of dignitaries spoke Tuesday morning at a press conference about the center.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) said it's extremely important to help people find jobs, given high unemployment and the present state of the economy.

"This program, assisted by the stimulus package, represents an excellent utilization of funds in the library," he said.

Owens credited State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) for helping move the funds from the federal level through the state and out to the library.

Little said the people involved found a great way to use the funding to help the community.

"Libraries are very, very important. I always think of them as the adult-education component of the community," she said.

Duprey said she was proud to have been part of the team effort to obtain the grant. It's another example of how the people of the North Country work together, she said.

"I think it's difficult for people across the state to realize we don't have turf wars here."

TIMELINE

Mary Linda Todd, a library development specialist with the New York State Library, is developer for the statewide project and director of the grant.

She commended the staff at the Plattsburgh Public Library for seeking the grant and noted she was surprised how many libraries across the state weren't interested.

"The library staff are under a very tight timeline," Todd said.

That includes quarterly progress reporting on issues such as purchasing and hiring staff.

PARTNERSHIP

New York State Department of Education Regent James Dawson said reductions in library funding make it even more important for libraries to seek grant funds.

The ability to tie that in with broadband service and assistance to job seekers was a good move, he said.

Library Director Stanley Ransom said he was delighted when the library was able to partner with OneWorkSource on the project.

North Country Workforce Investment Board Chair John Van Natten said the partnership is an example of institutions with different missions working together to better the community.

"Public libraries are changing. They are taking on broader public-service roles beyond loaning books, CDs and DVDs," he said.

The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

E-mail Dan Heath at:

dheath@pressrepublican.com