The Springfield Town Library was one of 20 libraries, statewide, to qualify for a conference and the associated matching grant, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation's US Libraries Initiative and its "Opportunity Online" Hardware Grant offer assistance to qualified libraries across the United States to provide quality technology services to the millions of patrons who count on them for their only access to computers and the Internet.
The two-day conference, Turning the Page: Building Your Library Community, was presented by the Public Library Association.
The "Opportunity Online" Hardware Grant is a two-year grant program designed to help local libraries sustain technology services and strengthen their ability to develop ongoing funding for those services.
According to Russ Moore, Springfield's Library Director, the library is eligible to receive $1,950 in grant funding with a 25% local match of $650 in the first year and $1,300 in grant funding with a 50% local match of $1,300 in the second year, to purchase new public access computers and related support. In other words for $1,950 we will receive $3,250 in matching funds for a total benefit of $5,200.
The Library currently has six desktop computers for public use and typically there is a waiting line. With limited space in the Library, Moore plans to purchase four laptop computers and software, two each year, to be used within the building for general public use and Internet access through the Library's wireless network.
Nearly doubling the available computers, laptops will allow patrons to find a comfortable spot anywhere in the library to work.
But, as Moore points out, it is a matching grant and funds will need to be raised for the town's share. The first year's grant match is being raised by The Friends of the Springfield Town Library (FOSTL) but additional community support will be necessary to complete the second year's matching funds.
FOSTL is coordinating the matching grant effort so anyone who would like to help with the town's share should send their specified donation to "FOSTL", c/o of The Springfield Town Library, 43 Main St, Springfield 05156.