Categorized | Books, Entertainment

Free Internet now available in every public library

MEDIA RELEASE

Thanks to a $582,000 Opportunity Online hardware grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an additional local match of $388,000, Hawaii’s public libraries are now able to provide free, high-quality access to computer workstations at every library branch in the state.

The matching funds were provided by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii; the Omidyar Ohana Fund, through the Hawaii Community Foundation; and Alexander & Baldwin Foundation.

“Funding provided by this grant will dramatically improve computer access at public libraries and provide the technology required to meet the growing needs of our communities,” said Byrde Cestare, FLH Executive Director.

The program is focused on helping libraries serving populations most in need and which are vulnerable to having their technology services become obsolete.

With almost 40 percent of Americans still lacking Internet access at home, libraries are a critical link to technology for many who cannot afford the service on their own.

Millions of Americans use computers and the Internet at public libraries to earn long-distance learning degrees, start and advance small businesses, obtain critical health information, research employment opportunities, learn English, find e-government information, and more.

“Computer and Internet access have become essential services that our patrons demand” said State Librarian Richard Burns. “It is critical that we have the resources necessary to properly maintain these technology tools so that our libraries can help all people in Hawaii access the information they need to succeed and to contribute to our community.”

While nearly 100 percent of U.S. public libraries now offer free computer and Internet services, many struggle to maintain them as budget cuts threaten to close libraries, reduce operating hours, limit access to staff training and technical support, and make it difficult to keep pace with new technologies.

“Fast, reliable online access can open a world of economic, educational, and social opportunities,” said Jill Nishi, Deputy Director – U.S. Program at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “It is imperative that all communities acknowledge the role our libraries play in providing this service and give libraries the support they need to continue providing critical technology tools long into the future.”

At the September HSPLS Maui County Branch Managers’ Meeting, State Librarian Richard Burns, HSPLS staff members, and branch managers from the eight Maui County public libraries had the opportunity to thank Corey Moriyama of HC&S, a Division of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., for his company’s donation to this program which will enhance computer services for Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.

— Find out more:
www.librarieshawaii.org

One Response to “Free Internet now available in every public library”

  1. Cherdan Johnson says:

    To be perfectly frank, I think acquiring A/C at the Hilo Public Library is much more imperative than free wifi. I only recently learned that HPL even offered this. I have once or twice contemplated making use of it, only to remember just how unbearably hot and uncomfortable the library is. As Hilo has become increasingly, often UNBEARABLY humid, my trips to the library on average last no more than 15 minutes to half an hour. I can’t even fathom sitting there on my computer for an hour. It’s not just the humidity, it’s the amount of bodies that are packed in. Many older Hilo buildings and businesses are still without air conditioning in 2012, and until (and if ever) they acquire this creature comfort, many people will prefer to utilize the corporate fatcats (Starbucks, et al), simply because it is unpleasant to remain in a hot enclosed area for an extended duration of time.

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