Grants to Bring Computers and Training to Douglass Branch Library


Marsha Grove
Director, Champaign Public Library

Two grants will allow the Champaign Public Library to double the number of public computers at its Douglass Branch and offer free classes and individual instruction in basic computer skills, online job searching and more.

A grant of $112,465 from the 2010 Live and Learn Construction Grant Program will fund interior remodeling of the branch, located at 504 E. Grove St., creating an expanded computer room that will accommodate 20 public workstations, twice the number available now.

An additional grant of $26,000 will allow the library to hire an instructor to lead computer classes and offer one-on-one assistance. That grant, awarded by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, is part of the “Eliminate the Digital Divide” program to improve access to Internet-based education, employment and reading resources, especially for those who are unemployed, low income, seniors or minorities. Both grants were disbursed through the office of Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White.

Construction will take place from June 14, 2011, through August, and training will start in the fall. During construction, the branch will be without computers and seating for the public, but materials will still be available for checkout, and children’s programs and summer reading activities will continue, as space allows.

The need for help with computer technology is great, especially in the current job market, said Douglass Branch Manager Essie Harris. “Many jobs now require you to apply online,” Harris said. “If you don’t have e-mail or a computer, or if you don’t know how to use them, you’re at a disadvantage from the start.”

The library has seen a significant increase in computer use in recent years, Library Director Marsha Grove said. “Providing computer access is now a vital role for public libraries,” Grove said. “The Internet is an essential source of information, communication and access to jobs. We’re pleased that these grants will help us expand such a critical service.”

The “Digital Divide” grant will also allow purchase of software for improving typing skills; a subscription to Career Transitions, an online tool for exploring career options and improving job-hunting skills; a projector and screen to help with group instruction; and promotion of the new computer lab and classes. Computers have been purchased with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and funds from the Champaign Public Library Friends.


Computer Help Schedule

Personalized, one-on-one computer help is available at the Douglass Branch Library every Monday through Thursday from 5 to 8 pm, through May 2012. Classes that introduce basic computer skills in a single, hour-long session are also offered at 6 pm those evenings. The class schedule is:

Using a Computer & the Internet (Mondays)
Setting Up & Using E-mail (Tuesdays)
Creating Your Resume (Wednesdays)
Finding & Applying for a Job (Thursdays)

Renovated Douglass Branch Reveal

The public is invited to be there as we reveal the colorful new look of the Douglass Branch Library and its expanded computer area. Join us on Thu., Sep. 22, from 4:30 to 6 pm, for refreshments, live music, and activities for children. We’ll have a brief dedication ceremony at 5 pm.