Library computers gaining popularity - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Library computers gaining popularity

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A growing number of Americans are going online at the local library. A new study shows computers at public libraries are popular choices for job hunting, social networking and catching up on the latest news.

One third of all Americans over age 14, 77 million people, have used a library computer in the past year. And that trend also holds true on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Books and reading remain the heartbeat of most libraries, but library computers are quickly gaining in popularity with public access to hi-speed internet.

"Job search. Resumes. Just doing basic search," said library manager Deborah Lundy. "Some people like to get on there and look at the news, what's going on in the world if they can't afford to buy the newspaper or magazines, they just go into the library and get all the information."

Computer stations at West Biloxi are frequently full and it's not uncommon to have a line of computer users when the branch opens.

"Check the weather. Read the news. You know, check out anything. Favorite restaurants or whatever," said computer user Cynthia Quibti.

Whatever online activity you might do at your home or office computer, it's also happening at your local library.

"There's a lot of social networking. A lot of resumes being printed. A lot of online banking. A lot of new residents coming in to check their stuff before they get settled in," said circulation manager Mandy Lawrence.

"I think they're very important," said Michael Collins.

Collins frequently uses library computers. His motivation is acquiring knowledge.

"Learning. Especially at my age, knowledge is power and I can find out most anything I need to learn on the computer," he said.

Plenty of students also enjoy going online at the library.

"Most of the teens that come in are looking for homework assignments. Sometimes to type up documents for homework," said the children's librarian, Diedre Wallace. "The younger children that come in use our children's computers and they access games on those computers that also help them with their reading skills."

Those reading skills can also be strengthened the old fashioned way:  With a library book.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated millions of dollars to help libraries purchase updated computer equipment. That foundation was also responsible for major support to libraries along the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

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