Bixby upgrades tech

VERGENNES — The eVermont grant that helped bring free wifi to downtown Vergennes has also benefited the Bixby Free Memorial Library inside its walls, too.
The eVermont grant paid for several upgrades at the Bixby, including the purchase of laptops, iPads, three e-readers (two Nooks and a Kindle), and several small video recorders known as flip cameras.
That equipment has yet to be fully deployed, said library executive director Jane Spencer, because staff members are still being trained — at least in part by Brooks — to teach Bixby patrons how to use them. Spencer said Brooks would also visit local senior groups to introduce the new digital additions.
One way or another, that equipment will be fully available to the public soon, Spencer said.
“We can say they will be out on the floor in July,” she said.
Vergennes Partnership Executive Director Tara Brooks is also researching how best to use grant money dedicated to buying digital subscriptions for the library. Spencer said the Bixby is waiting until her analysis is complete of how best to blend free content with paid websites, thus making the money go furthest.
A Bixby effort is also under way to work with volunteer Vergennes Union High School teachers to train them to train students to educate seniors how to navigate the digital world. Spencer said having adults on board at VUHS to keep the project alive made more sense than focusing on training students who would graduate and move on.
One grant element is complete and, Spencer said, more than welcome at the Bixby. Two grant-funded laptops now allow patrons to find books digitally for the first time rather than shuffle through index cards, fulfilling a longtime goal of Bixby officials.
“Everybody who comes in right now uses one of those computers users to access our card catalog,” Spencer said.

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