York Tech program expands public’s access to computers

The Kershaw Branch of the Lancaster County Library had the opportunity to show off their Public Computer Center (PCC)at the facility’s open house last Thursday.

About seven new computers are available for public use at the Kershaw Branch library. There is also a 20-station computer lab at the library in partnership with York Technical College, which received a $5.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The purpose of the grant is to establish a statewide network of 70 public computer centers with the intent of expanding broadband and computer access in underserved areas.

The seven new PC’s at the Kershaw Branch library replace older PC’s that are now added to the Lancaster Main Library to increase the number they may offer there.

Lancaster County Library Director Richard Band said Thursday anytime you get new PCs as a part of a grant, it’s a big deal.

“It helps a lot in tough budget times because any money we don’t spend on computers we can spend on books,” he said.

Kershaw Library’s PCC will be used to teach some basic and advanced computer courses, Internet and email usage, and resume writing. The location will also serve as classroom space for York Tech, which will provide Career Success Network classes, which are funded by the J. Marion Sims Foundation.

York Technical College Dean of Off-Campus Centers Ernie Green said the local York Tech campus had ran out of classroom space when they received information about being awarded the grant. He approached Band about the opportunity to partner with the library and offer more computers while using a room inside of the Kershaw Branch for extra classroom space.

“We talked about it and he jumped at the opportunity,” Green said.

The library classroom will likely be used as space for an extra math class or for administrative office classes offered through York Tech. Green also said the computer courses the library will soon offer to the public can be a big plus to area residents.

“I think about senior men and women that want to know how to use the computer so they can get in touch with their grandkids on Facebook.  This will be a good opportunity for that” he said.

The computer purchase and upgrades has also benefited Lancaster County Adult Education. The 22 new PC’s at the York Tech, Kershaw campus made it possible for the college to replace 10 outdated computers, which were being used during the Adult Ed evening classes.

Local residents that venture to the local library to use the computers might notice the most obvious improvement being in wait time. Kershaw Branch Librarian Pat Sims said with only four computers in the past, visitors would have to write their name on a waiting list to get on the computer. The three extra computers have eased that wait a lot, she said.

“It’s helped with everything. Before, kids might have come by needing to do homework and not be able to get on the computer,” she said.

Since the new computers were provided, Sims said she has seen more local residents coming by to use them. About 25-30 people generally use the seven available computers each day.

“We are so thrilled with this,” she said.

Parents and youngsters that have visited the library for the fun and educational programs offered there will notice a little difference. The programs were previously offered in the current PCC room.

Since the library and York Tech are now sharing the room, the programs are now being offered in the old cafeteria room at the facility. Hinson said since there had been about 125-130 participating in the programs, it works well since cafeteria offers much more space.

By Joseph Garris Jr, Staff  Reporter with Kershaw The News-Era