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Grant gives local libraries electronic gear


POWNAL -- Two local libraries received thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment Tuesday from the e-Vermont grant program.

The Solomon Wright Public Library in Pownal and the Martha Canfield Library in Arlington had the equipment personally delivered by Martha Reid, head librarian of the state Department of Libraries and Regional Librarian Amy Howlett.

The Pownal library received three scanners -- two double as printers -- two laptops, a desktop computer, a few power strips, memory sticks, and computer mice.

In Arlington, the library received three computers and a printer. Arlington received the grant jointly with Sandgate and Sunderland.

Ten other towns in Vermont received the first round of e-Vermont funds while 12 more will receive the next.

Linda Hall, director of the Solomon Wright Public Library, said she estimated the value of what her organization got to be around $3,000.

Reid said the purpose behind e-Vermont, which was funded by federal stimulus money, was to increase the level of Internet access in rural areas, thus helping education, town government, and small businesses.

In a past interview, Gordon Woodrow, who helped Arlington, Sandgate, and Sunderland apply for the grant, said they were designed to help small business owners establish a better online presence through Internet access and basic training. They also got laptops into the schools so that kids could be taught how to use the Internet for constructive purposes.

Libraries have also benefited, as people without Internet access at their homes often go there for it; libraries also serve as hubs for information ranging from professional development to genealogy.

The grant has also opened up access to the Front Porch Forum, a kind of e-bulletin board for townsfolk to use when they need something promoted, a service done, or have a service to offer.

Hall said the Wright Library was the first in Bennington County to participate in the inter-library loan program, and she remembers setting up the IBM computer it was run through. Keeping up with technology has been a challenge, she said, but worth it, and will soon be looking for space to put the new equipment.