Computer distribution is first link in Internet access project
Rock County Library moved forward with its broadband education initiative by giving away computers.
Library director Calla Jarvie, along with members of the broadband education steering committee, unloaded 53 personal computers.
Distribution took place Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the law enforcement center with the extras delivered to the library on Main Street Luverne where they are being stored.
Twenty-five families in the Luverne and Hills-Beaver Creek school districts received personal computers for home use.
“Nowadays so many things you have to do, you have to do online,” she said.
Employment applications, medical records, bank transactions and schoolwork are among the common tasks now performed regularly on computers using the Internet.
The Rock County Library was one of four entities chosen last year for the Blandin Foundation 2018-20 Broadband Communities Grant.
The library’s main goal is to increase broadband Internet use across all sectors including agriculture, education, health, private business and private use.
Other goals include closing gaps in available services, conducting business locally and generally making people’s lives easier through the use of technology.
The computer delivery from PCs for People was the first major event completed with the $75,000 grant.
PCs for People is a non-profit organization that provides low-cost computers and affordable broadband Internet into homes of low-income individuals.
The St. Paul company recycles unusable computers and refurbishes them for reuse.
Helping the local library with its project falls into the organization’s mission to provide access to computers to everyone.
Abbey Dibble is the warehouse and production supervisor for PCs for People.
Normally Dibble works in the office, but the Jan. 15 trip to Luverne with driver Matt Alley was a rare opportunity to see where the computers she inventories every day ultimately end up.
“I was begging to go on a distribution event,” she said. “Doing this job I see how important computers are.”
Besides families with school-aged children, two of the computers were delivered to the Blue Mound Towers for use by its residents, one computer went to the Rock County History Center, six computers are reserved for the new Rock County Senior Center and three are extras in case they are needed.
Fifteen computers are still available at the library for eligible families or organizations.
Broadband Internet access became available to all premises in Rock County in late 2016 through the Rock County Broadband Alliance.
Last week’s computer distribution is the first of a series of events intended to provide residents with resources to better use the Internet.
“We’ve got a lot of things in the works,” Jarvie said.
Activities being planned include:
•technology days or special training sessions targeted toward groups such as farmers.
•Wi-Fi connections on school buses.
•a Wi-Fi wagon for use at community events.
The Broadband Alliance will produce a series of educational “How To” videos.
Jarvie said the task force is open to any suggestions to fill resource gaps to fully use the Internet.
Contact Jarvie at the Rock County Library in Luverne at 507-449-5040 for more information about the Blandin community project.