COLUMBIA, SC (Dec. 15, 2009) – Richland County residents will have access to more computers and free Internet service at their local libraries – plus expanded help in using both, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Knight Foundation support will help create a job center at the Richland County Main Library to assist residents in career and employment searches. Meanwhile, the Eastover Branch, which is currently closed on Tuesdays, will now open for “Tech Tuesdays” to provide computer training and support.
Other branches will receive additional desktop and laptop computers to increase access for all users.
Over the past two years, the library’s 11 locations have experienced a 30 percent increase in use, with many residents turning to the library for the critical information they need for job searches, resume preparation and unemployment services.
“There’s no doubt that libraries are critical resources for those looking for work, whether they need access to technology or instruction on creating e-mail accounts and resumes,” said Melanie Huggins, executive director, Richland County Public Library. “Library staff are knowledgeable and can assist job seekers in numerous ways – but only if there is enough technology available. This grant will allow our libraries to meet a dire need, helping residents provide for themselves and their families and making the community stronger.”
The $438,000 grant is part of a $5.5 million Knight Foundation initiative benefiting library users in 20 communities across the United States. The effort reinforces the sweeping recommendations by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, a project of the Aspen Institute. In a report issued earlier this year, the Commission asserts that democracy in America is threatened by the lack of equal access to quality information. Funding public libraries, as centers of digital and media training, is one key to filling the gaps, the commission says. Its report is available at www.knightcomm.org.
“Libraries offer residents free and easy access to the critical news and information they need to make decisions about their lives,” said Susan Patterson, Columbia program director for Knight Foundation. “Through this initiative, we hope to augment libraries’ roles as vital community centers while helping to create engaged and informed communities.”
About the Richland County Public Library Last year, the Richland County Public Library attracted 2.2 million visitors to its 11 locations, and circulation was more than 3.7 million. A former National Library of the Year, RCPL has also received state and national attention for its special services, including a Literary Residency program and its significant contributions to the arts and humanities in South Carolina.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Padgett S. Lewis, APR, Richland County Public Library, 803-929-3472, plewis@myRCPL.com Marc Fest, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677; email@example.com
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.