Public, school libraries receive technology upgrades
Chilton County libraries and schools received technology upgrades this month after state Rep. Kurt Wallace committed more than $20,000 of his discretionary funding to the upgrades.
Wallace was able to give more than $17,000 in discretionary funds for computer software upgrades at county schools, along with another $7,000 for new computers at public libraries in Jemison and Maplesville.
Discretionary funds consist of taxpayers’ money allotted to government officials each fiscal year to be used in the officials’ individual districts at their discretion.
Wallace said he learned he could give his discretionary funds to public and school libraries, and he decided to do so in an effort to help people of all ages in an area where he saw room for improvement.
“I want to do something that’s going to help the most people I can,” Wallace said.
Chilton County Schools Technology Coordinator Kim Arrington said the $17,350 that Wallace donated to school libraries covers the startup costs of moving to a new online library program at the following seven schools: Jemison Elementary School, Jemison Middle School, Jemison High School, Thorsby, Isabella, Maplesville and Verbena.
“Last May, we changed out servers at all schools, and the new servers did not support their current library programs,” Arrington said. “Over the past several years, many of the district schools had already moved to an online program, but these seven schools did not have the funding. At that point, Rep. Wallace stepped in and donated the startup fees.”
Arrington said the schools will be responsible for the renewal fees, but the renewal fees are not as expensive as the one-time startup fees.
“The schools are very appreciative of Rep. Wallace’s help,” Arrington said.
Wallace gave $7,000 to two county libraries to be used for new computers and other technological upgrades.
About $3,200 furnished two new Hewlett-Packard computers for the Jemison Public Library and two for the Maplesville Town Library, which are branches of the Chilton-Clanton Public Library.
The computers cost roughly $800 apiece.
CCPL Director Kelly Easterling said the remainder of the $7,000 would be used to purchase audio-visual equipment such as a high-definition, ceiling-mounted overhead projector for the Chilton-Clanton Public Library’s newly renovated conference room.
Libraries in Jemison and Maplesville needed more computers for residents to use when Internet access is limited or non-existent at their homes.
“We’ve had a big increase of people coming to our library to use our computers,” Maplesville Town Clerk Sheila Haigler said. “People are having trouble financially to pay for Internet, or their dial-up is very slow. We’re grateful to get more computers.”
Haigler said Maplesville’s library had three computers before the two new ones arrived.
Easterling said CCPL would purchase two computer tables for Maplesville that each would house two computers and tower units with space between for a printer.
The tables will cost about $1,000 total, Easterling said.
Jemison librarian Tammie McGriff said her library had only one working computer before Wallace announced his plans to help purchase additional computers for the libraries.
“We were in desperate need,” McGriff said. “The city was thinking about buying some new ones, and Kelly [Easterling] called with the good news. We will have three for the public.”
Easterling noted the importance of having enough computers in communities like Jemison and Maplesville for residents who live too far away from the Chilton-Clanton Public Library and need access to bills, paychecks, employment applications and other documents online.
“It’s impressive the number of people that enter this library to use these computers,” Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed said of his city’s library. “It’s a daily thing.”