February 10, 2005

Library Upgrades Hardware and Software

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has completed a technology improvement project at its 59 area libraries. The project, dubbed "PC Refresh," is aimed at updating both hardware and software for library users and employees, and builds upon other improvements BPL as made as part of its overall efforts to serve more people in more ways than ever before.

As part of the PC Refresh Project, all public computers have been replaced with Dell computers with accompanying 17", flat-screen monitors. The new computers have updated software, including Microsoft's suite of MS Office programs. In addition, a language menu has been added to all computers, which allows users to establish one of 23 languages as the default setting. This feature helps non-English speakers by allowing them to choose the language they want to type documents, research the library's catalog and browse the Internet. The technology upgrade also allows patrons to access the CD-ROM drives on the computers, allowing them to read documents or files or play music CDs with headphones.

"We're very happy to be able to provide library users with better computers and software," said Ginnie Cooper, Executive Director of BPL. "One of our primary goals is to allow people to make more use of the library in more ways than ever. Using technology in creative ways will help us meet that goal," she added.

Other Technology Improvements at BPL
In addition to hardware and software improvements, BPL has launched other technology-based efforts to improve service.

BPL recently expanded its collection of electronic research databases now available on-line at, with the addition of 6 new databases, including: Health Reference Center Academic (1980-2005); Business and Company Resource Center; The Twayne Author Series – Twayne World, English and US Authors; Informe; Custom Newspapers; and National Newspaper Index (1977-2005).

BPL's diverse collection of online resources now totals some 71 databases, including several multilingual sites. The Chinese Magazine database, for example, is a full-text resource of over 500 Chinese popular and scholarly periodicals published in China. Some of the topics include health, home, parenting, poetry, medical research, recipes, traveling and politics.

In addition to the increased collection of electronic databases, BPL is expected to expand its wireless technology pilot project to all 59 libraries by June of 2005. Currently available at 6 BPL libraries, the use of wireless technology gives patrons greater flexibility in using the library's on-line resources when visiting the library.

In 2004, BPL completed installation of the Live Homework Help* program, which connects children and young adults (grades 4 – 12) with live on-line tutors for help with math, science, English and social studies. Students can connect to an expert tutor for a one-to-one session daily throughout the year from 2 p.m. – 11 p.m., making it a helpful resource for summer school attendees. Spanish-speaking tutors in math and science are available Sundays through Thursdays, 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. The service is also accessible to library cardholders anywhere through BPL’s Web site.

Live Homework Help is supported by a generous grant from The Starr Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Barker Welfare Foundation and The Pumpkin Foundation. Public support for this project is provided by State Senator Carl Andrews and the Brooklyn Delegation to the New York State Senate and City Councilman Bill deBlasio.

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