Wheatley gives library service a thumbs up
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley has commended the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) and its partners for providing free access to information and communications technology (ICT) to the public.
"The Jamaica Library Service has embraced technology in such a way that it seeks to improve its service offerings to the general public. I am pleased that our local libraries are responding to the technological changes and, in so doing, are implementing learning initiatives aimed at increasing the literacy rate and assisting in developing a technologically enabled society," he said.
Wheatley was speaking at the JLS Tech Fest, held on Thursday at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library.
The event signalled the culmination of the three-year Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries ICT project.
The project, 'JLS: Using Technology to Empower Individuals and Communities for Development', sought to provide Jamaicans with increased access to ICT services.
Other objectives of the project were to provide ICT and other training programmes to promote personal, organisational and national development; to provide new and enhanced programmes and services responsive to stakeholders' needs; to promote the JLS programmes and services to existing and potential users to increase library usage; and to create greater awareness of the value of public libraries in communities to build local and national support of these entities.
In her remarks at the ceremony, director general of the JLS, Karen Barton, said the three-year project has had a positive impact, noting there has been an increase in public knowledge of basic ICT services.
"The impact study indicates that 82 per cent of our users deem the public library as the (best) place to access the Internet free of cost," she noted.
Barton said that in order to provide ICT training to promote personal, organisational and national development, they have trained more than 600 staff members, who, in turn, have trained 2,500 library users.
She added that the latest impact study showed that 51 per cent of the persons polled are able to apply basic computer skills learned at the library.
"Today, every public library across Jamaica has state-of-the-art computers for public access, with 82 per cent connected to the Internet and offering wireless access. The remaining 18 per cent are ready to provide connectivity once the infrastructure is in place in the community," Barton said.
The Tech Fest featured exhibitions from several public and private agencies, including the JLS; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology; Jamaica Public Service Company; The Gleaner; Office of the Children's Advocate; Communication Forensic Cyber Police Division; King Alarm Systems Limited; Campion College; and Jamaica College Robotics Club.