03/27/12 — Library plans new computer use setup

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Library plans new computer use setup

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 27, 2012 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Public Library Director Donna Phillips talks about plans for a new computer lab. The computers will move into a separate room. The revamping of the library should only take a couple of weeks. The project will cost $7,500.

A computer lab included in the design for the new Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive has been adapted to create a similar lab at the main library on East Ash Street.

The county is using about $7,500 from existing repair funds for the Goldsboro project. The work is being done by county employees.

The project also includes moving the Literacy Connections adult literacy program from the library to the former Nash Printing Co. building several blocks away. A second county department be located there as well, County Manager Lee Smith said Friday afternoon.

Smith said he is considering two county offices for the move and should know by today which one will be moved. He said he is not sure of what renovations would be needed and what the cost might be. However, the renovations should be minor, he said. One thing that will have to be done is to partition off the large open room that the entrance opens into, he said.

The building is one of three, along with the former Sportsman's World building, the county bought last May for $1.5 million.

Commissioners during their meeting this past week adopted a $1.2 million budget ordinance for renovations at the Sportsman's World building that will serve as the county's new Senior Center. That project is expected to be completed by fall.

"The county staff has begun a small renovation project at the library," Smith told commissioners during their meeting last week. "This renovation will allow us to have a separate computer room, observable by staff. We also will be moving the Literacy Connections to another existing site with these renovations, thereby improving the way that we can serve the public.

"We are going to do what we have designed in the Mount Olive library project, more of a computer lab setting, with carrels that will allow the computers to all face one way. People will go into a room to go to the computers so that the public is not walking by the computers. Of course, somebody can have a laptop and be in the library."

Some of the existing corrals will be used as study areas, he said. And the computer room will have a large glass window so that library staff can monitor computer users.

Moving the computers should improve traffic flow in the library, Donna Phillips, library director, said in an interview. The computers were located next to the library's reference desk. However, library staff have noticed that patrons appear hesitant to walk across that area to get to the reference desk, she said.

Changes also are in store for the reference desk area to make it more user friendly, she added.

Mrs. Phillips said that the renovation project had been one of the library's capital projects and that she was pleased that the county had the money to proceed.

A non-load-bearing wall has been removed to open up an area to serve as the computer lab. Gary Partin, who designed the library, offered suggestions on how to do the work, she said.

During the Tuesday meeting, Commissioner Steve Keen asked Smith if library staff would be able to monitor the computers or to block specific things that are being viewed by computer. Keen said that he wanted to ensure that viewers were not looking at inappropriate sites.

"I will go ahead and say pornography, which is the No. 1 addiction there is in this country today. There have been lawsuits all over the country. I know the county has taken on the ownership of the libraries and I will be responsible to make sure that, as commissioner, the appropriateness of viewing on those computers," Keen said.

Smith agreed and said he believes the county is doing all that is reasonable and prudent to protect the public.

"We actually have, if you are under the age of 18, I believe, there are filters on our system," Smith said. "However, as an adult, constitutionally and also by virtue of our allocations from the state of North Carolina and the federal government, if an adult over the age of 18 requests that the filters be cut off -- we cut those filters off at that request. That is part of the move is to make sure that we are protecting all of our patrons."

In an interview, Smith said such material had not proven to be a particular problem.

"We are just trying to stay ahead of issues," he said. "We have heard of issues in other locations so we thought it best to make the changes and further this design allows staff to monitor activities in library and assist more effectively."