Andover Library computer installationPatrons at the Andover Public Library in Andover, Maine, are enjoying four new computers, a wireless printer, and a router that strengthens WiFi signals throughout the building, thanks to a digital inclusion grant from the Center.  Behind the scenes, new wires have replaced old to help the library make full use of the power of the Maine School and Library Network’s (MSLN) fiber-optic network.

“We’ve had people on all of them every day since they were installed,” said Andover Library Director Janet Farrington. “They’re really enjoying them. The computers are quick and easy to use. Everyone’s really impressed. And I love that they’re so small! They’re the size of a book, which makes our computer area much more open and uncluttered.”

Public libraries are a vital resource in bridging the digital equity gap that exists in many rural communities across the Northern Forest region. Residents in towns with unreliable internet connections and families that are unable to afford a home computer often rely on their local libraries to stay connected.

The Northern Forest Center is working with 11 libraries through the Maine West Initiative to address this digital equity gap by purchasing new computers, printers, routers, software, and fiber optic wiring upgrades to benefit members.

Brian Keene, owner of Canton Point Technologies in Canton, Maine, sourced 29 desktops and 19 laptops for the libraries. Many of the participating libraries opted to add the latest Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative suites to their computers. The Center also purchased nine wireless printers and 17 routers to supply to libraries as part of the project.

The library project is one part of a series of ongoing digital literacy and inclusion efforts underway in the Maine West region.

In the photo above, Michael Dolloff, assistant director with the Andover Public Library uses one of the new computers.