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CF, Workforce give libraries an upgrade

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By Lou Elliott Jones

The Levy County Public Library system is upgrading computers at the Chiefland, Williston and Bronson locations, and it won't cost a dime — but it will also save the department $17,000.

That's because the donation of more than 17 used, but more modern, pieces of computer equipment by the College of Central Florida and Workforce Connection will allow the library system to end its contract for leased computer equipment. 

Lisa Brasher, county library director, told the Levy County Commission at its April 16 meeting that the computers currently in the library need an upgrade and do not come with some software needed by students and people using the computers to seek employment. 

“We've got to replace seven each at the Williston, Bronson and Chiefland branches because we have a contract that renews in May,” Brasher said. “I would like to void that contract.”

CF Levy Center Provost Marilyn Ladner said instructors at the Chiefland campus regularly tell students they couldn't do more than research on the public library computers because the writing software on them is not compatible with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office writing application used by the school for documents. 

Ladner said she learned during a meeting at the Ocala main campus that the school was upgrading its computers and that the used computers were going into storage.

 “They went on a shelf and would be used for spare parts,” Ladner said. 

She said the college has identified 35 computers it can make available and has 10 ready to be delivered. Ladner said the only hitch in donating the computers was that the hard drives needed to be removed and replaced. 

Rusty Skinner, executive director of Workforce Connection, said the agency, which provides job training and help finding employment, would step up and provide the hard drives which cost about $40 each so people seeking jobs or better jobs could train and write resumes on the library computers. 

Ladner said the college's donated computers will also serve another purpose: helping residents who have not graduated from high school to earn their General Equivalency Diploma before new, more rigorous standards kick in January 2014.

“The GED test is changing,” Ladner said. “We have a lot of people out there who have only partially completed the tests.” The GED consists of a battery of tests in math, science, reading, writing and social studies. 

“We are going to do a massive marketing campaign and hold information sessions at all of the libraries on the same day and do a boot camp,” Ladner said. 

“This will make a huge change in our workforce demographics.”