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Wilson County Public Library patrons can expect to see several new technology-related upgrades to the main location and branches including self-checkout kiosks.
The library was recently awarded two federal grants totaling nearly $100,000 aimed to increase services as well as digital literacy. The local match for these grants is roughly $32,000 that was included in the library’s 2019-20 budget. Molly Westmoreland, Wilson County Public Library director, recently discussed the grants during county commissioners’ monthly meeting.
EXPANDED REACH TO BRANCHES
The EZ Grant for Digital Literacy will fund 35 new laptops for the main library and branches as well as five new six-port charging carts and storage stations for branches, Westmoreland said.
She said charging stations will help make sure laptops are charged and ready to go at any point. The grant will also provide staff training at all branches for digital literacy classes.
“Our goals for this grant are to implement weekly classes for branch customers to increase digital literacy,” she said. “We also want to increase the number of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs we provide at the branches.”
That will include coding and 3D modeling, officials said. The library also hopes to provide one-on-one computer assistance and training to customers on demand.
“What we find is sometimes people won’t sign up and attend a class because of their schedule for whatever reason,” Westmoreland said. “But they will ask questions while they’re at the library. That can be an excellent opportunity to sit down with someone and show them a few things.”
Westmoreland said while computer classes are already provided at the main library, the grant will allow library administrators to reach out to other branches.
“It’s really time for us to expand our reach into the rural areas of the county by having these available at our branches,” she said.
Wilson has five library branches in addition to the main branch: Black Creek Branch, East Branch, Elm City Branch, Lucama Branch and Stantonsburg Branch.
Westmoreland said staff members hope to increase customer knowledge about technology resources as well as improve customers’ comfort in using technology and enhance other skills for customers system-wide.
UPDATED SYSTEM AND KIOSKS
The second grant will enable the library system to purchase and install 12 radio frequency identification workstations.
“It’s been a while since the computer equipment that runs our library’s integrated library system has been updated,” Westmoreland said. “We want to improve our technology in our branches as well as at the main library.”
The library will also purchase a mobile inventory device to rotate among all branch locations as well as install new security gates with data-gathering capabilities for the main library.
Westmoreland said it will also protect inventory from theft.
And patrons can look forward to six new self-checkout kiosks at the main library and branches.
“This will be new technology for the branches,” she said.