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Users of public libraries benefitting from improved access to ICTS

Published:Thursday | March 3, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Director general of the Jamaica Library Service (JLS), Karen Barton.

The Jamaica Library Service (JLS) has been transforming public libraries across the island by equipping them with state-of-the-art technology resources, in order to provide Jamaicans with improved access to information and communications technology (ICT).

This is being done through the Using Technology to Empower Individuals and Communities for Development project, which is being funded by a US$2-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Libraries Initiative, and US$1.1 million from the Government of Jamaica.

Jamaicans are also benefiting from training and improvement in general library services under the two-year initiative, which got under way in November 2014.

Director general at the JLS, Karen Barton, told JIS News that 805 state-of-the-art ICT resources, including desktop computers, servers and laptops have been purchased and dispatched to all public libraries across Jamaica.

"We have also installed more than 150 wireless access points across all public libraries, which will enable our library users to enjoy increased Wi-Fi access," she said further.

Barton said the objective of the project was to improve ICT provisions for library users. She said "there is a worldwide trend where libraries are getting into more ICT services as this is what our users are demanding".

TRAINING COMPLETE

Through partnership with the Management Institute for National Development, 300 JLS staff members have successfully completed training in technology management, Microsoft Office Suite, leadership and the train-the-trainer programme.

Additionally, the JLS is currently facilitating free training in basic computer skills and digital literacy in select public libraries. There have also been increased requests from community groups for training offered under the project.

"In order to create greater awareness about the value of public libraries, we have established eight advocacy committees both at the parish and national levels," Barton said.