Thursday, July 30, 2009

Newberry Receives Grant for Kids Laptops

The Newberry Branch Library of the Alachua County Library District received a $4,000 Community Libraries in Caring Grant from the State Library and Archives of Florida.

Discussions within the Newberry community revealed children in elementary & middle school did not have adequate availability of computers after school. While, students were encouraged to use computers, the majority of students living in homes without the resources to purchase personal computers often fell behind, due to a lack of hands on experience.

With approximately 25% of registered library card holders age 17 and under, the Newberry Branch Library sought ways to offer students greater access to computers. In addition, the library wanted to ensure the computers were safe, provided educational opportunities, and encouraged a simple but interesting way to learn basic computer skills.

The Kids Laptop Connection consists of six Classmate PC’s, educational software, and accessories. Classmate PCs are specifically designed to be used by children for educational purposes, are rugged in design, and have keys sized for small hands.

Software applications purchased with the computers focus heavily on stimulating children’s minds, encouraging creativity, and developing self-confidence. A total of 14 software applications are available in the Kids Laptop Connection, providing a wide range of opportunities for children of every skill level from pre-K to middle school.

In order to participate in the Laptop Connection program participants must be age 15 or younger. Participants complete an Internet Safety Quiz prior to getting started, to increase their awareness of possible dangers on the internet - such as not providing personal information, to tell an adult if something on the computer makes them uncomfortable, and an overview on how to communicate respectfully using a computer. Upon completion of the quiz staff members educate the child about internet safety based on their quiz results.

Overall, the goal of the program is to provide computer access to children in the community who may not have exposure at home, improve proficiency in computer skills, and increase awareness about internet safety.

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