Johnson City Library — Broadband Benefits in Unexpected Ways

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Johnson City Public Library Director Maggie Goodman says new computers and software at the library are making life easier for local residents, in both expected and unexpected ways. Some of the tasks where librarians have seen increased use by library patrons include looking for jobs online, getting required certifications to keep the jobs they have, and students using new software to complete homework assignments.

The new computers and other upgrades are part of a cooperative agreement between the library and the Texas Connects Coalition (TXC2), a partnership of Texas non-profits supplying computers and software, high speed broadband access, and training to 70 public computer center locations across the state. The coalition provides these services through a federal grant from the U. S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Infrastructure Administration through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Many of the Texas sites are in rural areas like Johnson City.

According to Goodman, more people now use the library’s high speed connection to fill out job applications, tax forms, and complete other online tasks that dial-up access cannot handle. Two local grocery store clerks recently took Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission required classes online at the library.

“Having the latest technology and Office 2010 really helps,” Goodman said. A grant from Microsoft let TXC2 add Office 2010 to all the library’s computers. An unexpected benefit with universal availability is with Microsoft applications on the youth area filtered computers, students can create Powerpoint presentations without adult supervision. Prior to the latest upgrades, Powerpoint was only on the adult section machines. These machines are not filtered. When a non-adult student needed to make a presentation, either a librarian or the student’s parent had to sit with the minor while the student did homework.

Goodman is also excited about free computer training that started February 14. Just through word of mouth, “I’ve had at least 25 people ask about the classes, “ the librarian said.

The initial Basic Computer class brought in local residents with computer experience ranging from people who had no computer at home all the way to computer users looking for upgrades. The classes, led by Blanco County resident Curt Knutson, continue through the spring and summer. A computer proficiency class is also offered for small group and one-on-one training for specific issues.

For more information about TXC2, visit txc2.org. Check out the Johnson City Library in person at 209 Nugent Avenue, Johnson City, Texas, or online at jclibrarysite.org.

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