By Elise Franco
Patrons have had computer access at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library since 1996, and the lab continues to evolve as the need grows.
The main branch’s Adult Computer Area, formerly the Tech Center, recently was given a face-lift, said Cheryl Bush, public- relations manager.
Bush said the computer lab reopened in mid-June after a monthlong renovation project that cost about $20,000 and was paid for out of the library’s general fund. She said the project was deemed necessary because of the ever-changing and growing needs of the public.
“We knew we needed to make some changes,” she said. “Libraries have to continue to adapt, while keeping the books, which is always our main focus.”
Kristina Martinez, digital-resources supervisor, said the lab’s two interior walls were cut down to half-walls, which opened up the room and allowed for better access. Tables also were set up just outside the lab, and additional outlets were installed, which allows for laptop accessibility.
“We’re very pleased that these functional upgrades have been added, she said. “The new desk arrangement is more efficient for our customers who use the computers and for staff who are available to offer them basic computer assistance.”
No additional computer equipment was purchased, and the library was able to re-purpose the desks it already had, said Martinez.
The lab is one of three in the main branch that serves an average of 3,000 people per month. Children and teenagers also have access to computers in different areas of the library. Martinez said the adult lab contains 25 computer workstations that can be used for word processing and Internet access.
“The fact is, so many things need to be done online, and so many people don’t have access at home,” she said. “This is one of the busiest computer areas I’ve ever worked in. We’re helping more people than ever.”
Alex Armstrong, 26, of Warren, said he began using the lab about a year ago because he doesn’t have a computer at home.
“I come here about once per week. It’s a nice place to come to apply for jobs or catch up on current events,” he said. “It’s great because there are a lot of people who don’t have access to a computer otherwise.”
Armstrong, who is the manager of a local retail business, said when friends and acquaintances inquire about jobs at his company, he often refers them to the library to complete the application.
“I definitely send people down here to apply for jobs,” he said. “They’ve got the resources, and the staff is great and will help you with any questions you may have.”
The lab is available to the public Monday through Saturday during regular business hours. Martinez said the most-common reason people use the lab is to check email or social-media sites and apply for jobs, but many people also use the lab for research purposes.
“In addition to the Internet access, we have databases that been vetted for public use,” she said. “Everyone is different in how they receive their information.”