Public libraries have always been the community’s go-to place to explore and learn. While the library was once a place to engage with the written word, or audiobooks (what I often still call, books on tape!) in solitude, increasingly, it is a social hub where we can share information with each other by using the tools of the digital world to connect us in the physical world.
The demand for access to technology and resources is high. In Macon, the Washington Memorial Library computer classes continue to be filled to capacity. Our libraries serve as a portal to access new jobs, health information, our local history--even updates on family in far-off places.
Over the past three years, Knight Foundation has helped Macon residents to gain computer skills and have expanded Internet access. The funding brought both technology and free computer training to all in the Macon community.
Last week, a member of the local Rotary club shared his recent library experience with me. The 50-year old, successful small businessman told me that he didn’t know anything about computers and the Internet because “the girls in the office” handle all that. But he decided to learn, and attended the introductory computer class at Washington Memorial. He loved it and has already signed up for the next class.
More recently, Knight is helping to preserve our local history. A recent digitization project at the archives and in partnership with the Jefferson Institute, Digital Library of Georgia and Digital Public Library of America is encouraging community members to bring in their family histories so that the information may be digitized and distributed for all to learn.
The resources offered America’s 21st century public library create a cross-section for the Macon community to gain free computer skills, or use the free wireless internet. Our library has become a social hub for community members of all backgrounds to explore together, learn and connect.
By Beverly Blake, program director/ Macon at Knight Foundation