ELIZABETHTOWN — The Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System recently unveiled its new Mobile Broadband Library InternetXpress van.
InternetXpress, developed in partnership with Adirondack Community Action Programs and OneWorkSource, provides free workforce training and public access to computers.
Equipped with universally accessible laptop equipment, the InternetXpress Van will travel throughout Essex County, making scheduled appearances at 16 public libraries to provide free instruction.
Sessions include basic Word and Excel, writing a cover letter and thank-you letter, interviewing, networking, creating an employment portfolio, resume writing, understanding the Internet and LinkedIn.
"This service brings a new level of workforce-development assistance to area residents," said Library System Director Ewa Jankowska.
"Often, the computers already at a library are heavily utilized, and now the InternetXpress van will bring mobile resources to complement our existing library infrastructure."
OFTEN ONLY ACCESS
Jankowska pointed out that Twitter, Facebook and other social-network programs are "very difficult to grasp for some people," something the mobile van can help with.
"I hope the initiative and partnership with organizations such as ACAP will continue," she added.
"We have always had a dream to provide a program such as this," ACAP Executive Director Alan Jones said.
Cali Brooks, executive director of Adirondack Community Trust, said she sees a lot of pride in local libraries around the Adirondack region.
"We are using digital to bridge the gap between those who don't have digital access and literacy. Often the libraries are the only community access."
Brooks stated the three goals of the program: developing workforce skills, expanding Internet access and availability in libraries and providing digital literacy.
InternetXpress can be of great use to the unemployed, underemployed, seniors and individuals with disabilities, officials said.
FINDING OLD FRIENDS
One of the workshop benefactors, 82-year-old Chapin Davis of Westport, said he had reached a point in his life "in which I had not had any new experiences. But that changed when I bought a new computer.
"But I found it intimidating. Through this program, I learned about Skype and connected with my oldest childhood friend, with whom I last had contact with in 1947."
With a twinkle in his eye, Davis indicated he had also contacted several old flames.
Pointing to the van, he added, "I am very grateful for this. It has allowed me to have personal and emotional contacts."
Ken Doyle and Chris Lawrence have been hired to travel throughout Essex County, providing workshops and one-on-one consultation to the public.
They have received training in assisting with job-search processes and are also adept at helping people become more comfortable with technology.
"The purpose is to go where people live to provide services," Lawrence said.
"A project like this shows how a system can stay relevant and bring services to the community. We're here to do whatever we can to train people on the computer, as well as do career-related workshops.
"We are encouraging libraries to let us know the needs of the patrons. Though we currently have six, we're anticipating the ordering of more computers."
The unveiling ceremony concluded with Molly Ryan reading a letter from Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh), who was credited with obtaining much of the funding. Owens called the program "a much-needed service to our rural communities."
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