Not too long ago, the White Lake Township library only had 10 public computers available to service a community with a population of around 30,000. With so few computers, residents were stuck with limited time frames in addition to the frustrations of dealing with obsolete software.
However, that has all changed now thanks to a federal stimulus grant through Michigan State University which focuses on extending computer access to the general population across the state.
“There were a lot of daily frustrations,” said Library Director Larry Ostrowski of the problems running a library with limited computer resources. “The computers couldn’t always handle the program running or couldn’t always send attachments. Even filling out job applications was hard for people because the computers couldn’t handle the newer software. ”
Back in 2009, White Lake library applied for the federal grant, and at the end of February of this year, the library was able to double their computer stations in addition to getting two laser printers.
“We now have 21 computers available for public use as opposed to ten,” Ostrowski said.
This has resulted in the daily allotment of computer time per person to be raised from two hours a day to 2.5 hours per day.
And as opposed to the past, Ostrowski said the library hasn’t had to kick anybody off in half-hour blocks to make sure nobody was left waiting to use a computer.
“In the first month of having the new computers, we got close to maxing out, but we haven’t reached a place where we’ve had all of them being used at once,” Ostrowski explained.
And Ostrowski said many of their regular customers have been pleased that White Lake is “finally catching up with our neighbors” in offering more computer resources.
“I look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime thing. These things don’t happen every day. There’s always grants available, but not like this where we can double our amount of computers for the public,” he said.