Imperial County Free Library Project ACCESS/”Wi-Fi on Wheels”

Imperial County Free Library will be offering a new program, Project ACCESS, according to County Librarian Connie Barrington.  The Imperial County Board of Supervisors is being asked to accept a grant in the amount of $10,000 through the California State Library and a donation of $3,500 from Rabobank USA and to approve commencing the project immediately.

ACCESS, which stands for Anyone Can Checkout Electronic Services Simply, will “bring twenty-first century services out to some underserved areas in our library service district”, states Ms. Barrington.

Working with community partners, such as the Seeley Community Church, Westmorland Union School District, and volunteer residents from the community of Ocotillo, four areas (Niland, Ocotillo, Seeley and Westmorland) will receive services that include access to public computers, the Internet and online library services, library programming from computer courses to programs for parents such as “Every Child Ready to Read”, a special collection of materials in English and Spanish, and other services in this new model, which is an alternative to the older book outlet services previously offered.  While community partner locations will have on site collections, having this project allows services to be brought to the area on a periodic basis, providing an expansion of what the County Library can offer residents of those areas.

ACCESS is made possible in part by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, administered in California by the California State Librarian.  The $10,000 competitive grant will assist with additional staffing costs, allow purchase of the special collection and help with other costs, such as mileage to take the program on the road.

“Wi-Fi on Wheels” is an integral portion of the program, making access to electronic library services available in areas of the County where residents might have difficulty finding public access to the Internet.  It is funded through a generous donation from Rabobank, N.A.  “The monies from Rabobank,” says the County Librarian, “allow us to not only bring public access computing to these targeted communities, they make it possible to expand our computing-related services at our existing four branch locations as well.  This helps bridge the digital divide in our County.”

Rabobank’s donation is funding five laptop computers, necessary computer peripherals and a printer, with Wi-Fi access for the computers, so that it is truly “Wi-Fi on Wheels”. “This is a wonderful organization that provides an essential service to the residents of the Imperial Valley. We are thrilled to be able to help provide this much needed equipment,” said Dave Takata, Regional President for Rabobank, N.A. “We are committed to the communities we serve.”

Rabobank’s staff has been active locally in working to increase both traditional literacy (with sponsorship of programs such as a “backpack” project assisting youth in Westmorland) to taking a leadership role in looking at informational literacy and how technology assists in conjunction with the Imperial County Workforce Development Board and the Imperial County Foundation.

Access to the Internet has been shown to help better prepare job seekers for contemporary work situations, and area students benefit from learning more about utilizing electronic resources, such as those provided by Imperial County Free Library on its website, http://www.co.imperial.ca.us/library.

“I cannot think of a better example of many people and organizations working together to help the community,” claims Barrington, “and I am delighted to be able to offer these new services thanks to a public/private partnership which truly leverages area resources.”

If the program is approved by the Board of Supervisors and the funding accepted,   ACCESS with “Wi-Fi on wheels” will launch in December of 2011, and specific times and locations for programs will be announced.  For more information, contact Connie Barrington at Imperial County Free Library headquarters, (760) 339-6460.