Out of the Gates, fast computers arrive at library

Patrons are treated to state-of-the-art equipment through help from grant funding

With help from Bill Gates, Kathie Potts found where she was going — instantly.

Potts was the first Hood River County Library user last week to try out one of the new computers acquired by the library under a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It’s so fast,” said Potts, who starts a new job in Vancouver, Wash., next month, and went on the Internet to find her new workplace and the location of her new apartment. The map she wanted came up in seconds and the printer gave her a copy in as much time.

“These computers are a real asset. It’ll hasten the downloading and make everyone’s time a lot more effective on-line,” Potts said. With the computers in high demand some days, lightning-fast computers make better use of Internet time, she said.

“It’s also a bigger monitor, and better clarity,” Potts said. “The library is blessed to have these.”

The grant will give more people more time in cyberspace, according to county Library Director June Knudson.

The grant provides eight Internet computers for the three branches of the Hood River County Library system. Four of the computers are in the Hood River branch and two each are located in the Parkdale and Cascade Locks branches.

“Before this grant the library system had a total of four public Internet computers,” Knudson said. “With this grant we have doubled the number of public Internet stations in each branch of our library.”

The new computers provide users faster connectivity as well as upgraded programs for office applications, PowerPoint, Publisher, and PhotoDraw.

They also have reference tools such as Microsoft Streets and Trips and the Encarta Reference Suite 2001. Each computer can be used in either English or Spanish.

Patrons are permitted one hour each day of use. The Hood River branch has modified its sign-up procedures so that users no longer call up to make appointments.

Three Hood River branch computers are available on a walk-in basis while one can be reserved for specific times. Users sign in listing the time they begin and anyone waiting can take a number to establish their place in the queue.

“So far this new system seems to be working very well and few people had had to wait,” said Knudson.

“Many people do not need a whole hour so the machines are available readily. And, anyone who overstays their time is gently reminded by the person waiting to take their place.”

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