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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Computer History

Our new computer classes, Get Back to Work @ the Newton Falls Library got the staff asking their own questions. “How long have there been computers at the library? Wasn’t there once a dial up access to the library?” The answers to these questions involved a trip to the Local History Room on the 2nd floor.

Working backward through scrapbooks, we found that the staff began barcoding books in 1995. In December 1995, library patrons signed up for their new raspberry colored barcoded library cards, and the first day of library automation was February 11, 1996. Other paperwork showed that there was a microcomputer policy in existence before 1994. We continued working our way through older scrapbooks and the Newton Falls Herald. After the grand opening of the two-story library addition on April 14, 1988, it was announced in the following week’s Herald that the library had hired a new Tech Assistant to orient patrons in the use of the public access computers.

Reviewing our Technology Plans’ background sections, microcomputers were available for public word processing in 1983. The library began its automation process in 1991. In 1993, CD-Rom reference materials were available on library computers. The Internet could be accessed in-house by patrons with staff assistance in 1994. Beginning in September 1996, they had dial-in access from remote sites though our Newton Falls Information Network. Free Internet use and access to reference databases became available to the public in April 1997, through the Ohio Public Library Information Network [OPLIN].

For 26 years the library has offered computer training to the community. The R. J. Wean Foundation recently provided grant monies allowing the library to purchase the necessary equipment for our new wireless laptop computer lab, which is being used for classes on computer skills training courses. Our new classes cover a variety of topics including: basic computer skills, setting up email accounts, online job searching, resume and cover letter writing, MS Word and Office Basics, MS Excel, and photosharing.

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