By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
Moffat County libraries just received new computers compliments of one of the richest couples in the world.
Courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, libraries in Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur received a $31,465 cash grant to purchase eight new computers and three high-end laser printers.
"These computers are going to serve the community well for at least five years," said Donna Watkins, director of Moffat County libraries.
Five of the computers serve English speakers while the other three carry Spanish programs.
The Craig library installed four computers, three English and one Spanish.
"It's a great benefit to the Hispanic community," Watkins said. "We're hoping the Hispanic community will come in and do research in an environment in which they will have comfort in."
She wanted to stress that people who do not speak Spanish can still access the Internet on the Spanish computer.
Although the screen starts in Spanish, there are steps that can be taken to log on in English. Every library employee has been trained to assist in this process, she said.
Employees spent all day last Thursday, the day the computers were installed, being trained on how to operate the new systems.
Children will also reap the benefits of the new computer system, Watkins said.
Interactive children's games will be available on the English and Spanish computers.
With the new high-tech, high-memory systems, children can do a lot of educational practices usually not available to them.
"Children will have access to material they often cannot afford at home," she said.
And, with a library card, computers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
"Once a patron has a library card, everyone is equal," Watkins said. "A child has as much right to be on a computer for an hour as anyone else."
Hispanics, children and now the visually impaired will enjoy new opportunities on the computers. Each computer can be programmed to display larger letters, symbols and icons.
Overall, the computers will be beneficial for those in the community who want to come use them, Watkins said.
"We had low-end computers before that were slow and didn't have much memory," she said. "They also had a lot of virus and worm problems. This new system should put up a high wall for us against problems with hackers."
In addition to upgrades and new software, memory capability has been enhanced so that larger projects can be completed and all computers have flat screens that allow more privacy and better resolution, Watkins said.
"Huge amounts of information can now be downloaded from the new computers," Watkins said.
Guide books are located next to every computer and disks will be available for purchase at the library's cost.
"The patrons are going to be happy," Watkins said.