Atmore Library going high-tech

Published 7:04 am Monday, December 15, 2008

By By MaryClaire Foster
Atmore Public Library is doing what it can for the community, particularly for those in the community with vision problems and those who have loved ones serving in the military.
Window Eyes is a computer program that aides the vision impaired and is already up and running at the library thanks to the Friends of the Library.
The program, using a speech synthesizer, “reads” what is on the screen to the user allowing them to surf the Internet, create documents, use the library’s catalog and much more.
Atmore Public Library director Cathy McKinley said the library has three regular blind patrons who will be able to use the program and has had one patron already come in and use it.
The other new feature the library will soon have is a Web cam.
The Alabama Public Library Service and Gov. Bob Riley’s office are providing the Web cam for use by those who have family in friends in the military.
Atmore is one of 106 libraries in the state to participate in the program called Connecting Families Project, which puts computers with broadband capabilities in public libraries throughout the state so those serving in the military can better communicate with their loved ones.
The project began when the Governor’s office was contacted by Randy Hickman, a chief warrant office in the National Guard, who told them he was unable to see his family through web cams like his colleagues could because of lack of equipment in rural Alabama.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing more than $185,000 to help fund the acquisition of computers with Web cams.
McKinley said that many libraries were not receiving the equipment because they do not have high-speed Internet capabilities.
Rebecca Mitchell, APLS director, said more libraries could receive the equipment later and stressed the importance of a library as centers of information and community for cities.
McKinley commended the efforts of Mitchell to better the capabilities of libraries in the state.
If you have a friend or relative that has low vision or blind, please contact a library staff member at 251-368-5234 and they can show them how it works.

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