Computers land in library’s lap

The Oak Harbor Library will receive an unspecified number of laptop computers thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, dubbed “Tools for Tough Times.”

Sno-Isle Libraries is one of 17 library systems in the state to receive a portion of the $400,000 grant that will be used to purchase a total of 30 notebook computers for the Oak Harbor, Darrington, Granite Falls, Lynnwood, Marysville, Stanwood and Sultan libraries.

These communities will benefit most from the grants, said Mary Kelly, Sno-Isle Library spokeswoman.

“Based on our assessment, these communities are in greatest need for this additional resource, either because of high demand from the rest of the community, or distance from other employment resources,” she said.

The exact number of laptops slated for the Oak Harbor Library branch is currently unknown, Kelly said.

The new equipment will be reserved for job seekers to build skills and search for employment through online resources. The addition of these new laptops will allow library staff to waive the previously imposed two-hour a day computer limit on laptops.

The grant is aimed at helping vulnerable families that are feeling the impact of the ongoing economic downturn, according to a press release. In the past year, Washington libraries have reported a sharp rise in the number of people using their free services to search for employment, information and public assistance programs.

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