Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Library Director Craig Buthod and a group of eager young teens were on hand this morning to officially launch the Bon Air Library’s new Teen Computer Center. Known as the “The Loft,” the teen center features ten new computers, contemporary seating and an open and welcoming environment for students working on regular homework assignments or special projects. It also provides a fun place to hang out.
“Lifelong learning should always look this cool and be this fun,” Fischer said before cutting a ribbon on the new space located on the library’s second floor. “This new computer center is a gateway to the rest of the world for all students, and a remarkable pathway of continuous learning for the rest of their lives. This is what a 21st century library should look like and we have it right here at Bon Air.”
The Teen Computer Center is part of the Library’s $1.2 million three-year project launched in 2010 to expand access to technology and the internet at all 18 Library locations. The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) also has provided job search and technology training for teens, families, and unemployed individuals, expanded computer centers and the number of public computers, and developed technology literacy programming through the Library’s Tech Connects Team.
As the Library’s BTOP-funded initiatives near completion, their impact has been far reaching. More than 5,000 individuals have participated in the BTOP technology literacy programs. The Library has added 211 public computers bringing the total number of available computers to 735, which provide an additional 6,000 library patrons per week with access to a computer and the internet. All Library locations have had bandwidth upgrades making access to the internet up to four times faster than when the project started. That translates to faster and broader access to large files, high definition videos, and streaming audio.
BTOP has supported a new Job Shop at the Southwest Library and state-of-the-art Teen Computer Centers at both the new Fairdale Library and the recently refurbished and expanded Shawnee Library.
“Library patrons make use of up-to-the-minute technology for all kinds of reasons, from doing homework to earning online degrees, from applying for jobs to completing a research project, and from keeping up with the news to staying connected to family and friends,” said Buthod. “Access to computers and the internet is essential for living in today’s world and we are pleased to be able to offer this kind of advanced service to everyone who needs it, from the youngest to the oldest.”
In addition to the Teen Computer Center, the Bon Air Library received an additional 15 computers for adult use and some redecorating including new paint and carpeting.
As part of the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Mayor and Buthod introduced members of the Library’s Tech Connects Team, who then led participants in abbreviated versions of some of the teen “Make Lab” activities offered at the library. Make Labs offer training on digital content development, including video, music, photography, websites, graphic design, podcasts and other presentations. Teens can access tools they need including cameras, digital drawing tools, a green screen, sound recorders, iPads and laptops, to hone skills required for college and careers.
A full listing of the Library’s Tech Connects classes is featured each month in the Library News which is available at all library locations and is online at www.lfpl.org.
“We are reaching out to a broad base of possible technology users,” said Buthod, “and encouraging them to get familiar with these new technologies that can make it easier for them to find a new job, be more socially and professionally connected, access our new eBook selections, and develop their own personal content for their websites.”
BTOP is funded by a nearly $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]. In addition, Metro Government supplied matching funds of $105,000 and the Library Foundation provided an additional match of nearly $400,000.
Photo credits: Mayor’s Office, Louisville Magazine, Library Journal, LFPL
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