Spanish-language computer use clicks in libraries
Spanish-language computer use is up at in least three Garfield County libraries, and it produces some laughs at times.The giggles and grins come when Spanish-speaking children and their parents sit down at a computer, put on headphones, then the child demonstrates computer games, educational programs and interactive software.”Their fingers zoom all over the keyboard,” said Silt Branch Manager Janine Rose about the children. “It’s happening more and more. They laugh … it’s nice to hear.”The Spanish-language computers, three in all, are located at the New Castle, Silt and Parachute libraries, and were provided last fall through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.The computers have Internet access, instruction manuals in Spanish and software packages that include reference programs such as Encyclopedia Encarta 2001, office programs such as Word and Access, children’s programs such as Sistema Solar and Creative Writer, Internet Explorer and interactive software in Spanish, English, French and German.”It’s really a fast computer,” Rose said, explaining that the computer has an international keyboard that can also be used by non-Spanish speakers.Garfield County Library Director Jaci Spuhler said a statewide committee started looking into the Gates grant two and a half years ago. “It’s been a long process,” Spuhler said.Part of the application process called for Spuhler to write four essay answers to specific questions.Last fall, Spuhler learned the Garfield County library system was one of 14 systems that received grants. Libraries in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle did not qualify because they did not meet low-income guidelines in a three-mile radius from each branch, Spuhler said.Spuhler said the computers’ use has gone up on almost a daily basis.”There have been wild increases,” she said.Some users get on the computers to use word processing programs for rsums, letters and homework. Other send e-mail to family and friends, while others surf the Internet.”The only program that hasn’t been used yet is the spreadsheet,” Rose said.Rose’s own 12-year-old daughter likes to use the computer to practice Spanish. “It reinforces what she learns in school,” Rose said.Computer use varies from branch to branch, but Silt is usually busiest on Tuesdays, Saturdays and after school.Computer times can usually be secured a day in advance, although walk-up slots are sometimes available. There’s a one-hour maximum per person or family.Spuhler said the library system is always adding more Spanish-language books, and has branched out to more adult literature and books on tape.The Garfield County library system also receives Spanish-language materials from the Denver Public Library.”They send us their duplicate materials they can’t use. They have too many, and we don’t have enough,” Spuhler said.
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