Patrons of the Bonita Springs Public Library won't wait as long to use the Internet, write papers, and check e-mail with the recent addition of a dozen computers.
On March 9, employees of Atos Origin were on scene at the library setting up the brand new computers so they were available to visitors when the library opened its doors at 10 a.m.
The new computers have Windows XP installed and the new adult computers have Office 2003, with the capabilities to use Microsoft programs such as Publisher, Excel, Access, Word and Power Point. The new children's computers have numerous educational games.
"These newer machines are running the latest and the greatest Microsoft has to offer," Guy Grimaldi, of Atos Origin, said. Atos Origin installs and maintains the computers in Lee County government and service buildings.
Assistant County Manager Pete Winton looked at the overall library service in Bonita Springs recently, and realized that adding more computers was a step the county could take right away.
"We'll continue to look for more comprehensive options, but we didn't want library users to have to wait for an improvement that we could make now," Winton said in a press release issued by the county.
While eight of the computers will be located in the adult section, the other four were put in the children's section, doubling the number in that area of the library. Overall, the library now has 30 computers for patrons to use.
According to Community Relations Coordinator Heather O'Connell, the new computers will significantly reduce wait times, and puts the Bonita library on par with Cape Coral and Fort Myers. O'Connell said it puts the ratio of computers to patrons above Fort Myers' larger, regional library.
The additional computers brought the ratio to one computer for every 594 patrons. In comparison, Cape Coral's library has one computer for every 563 patrons, and Fort Myers has one for every 598 patrons.
O'Connell said the 18 computers they had before were used constantly.
"It will definitely reduce wait times," O'Connell said.
Maureen Pollock, manager of the Bonita Springs Public Library, said the library is excited about the computers, and is sure they will get plenty of use.
"It's part of the growth and change that libraries are experiencing, now that so many resources are available online," Pollock said in the release.
The computers allow visitors to access the Internet, check and write e-mail, and use word processing software.
Children who use the computers have access to educational games, and numerous databases of information for school projects. There is a country database where children can locate information such as flag symbolism for a country; life spans; popular careers; and even bad habits.
"Winking in Australia is one of the worst things you can do over there," O'Connell said. That's the kind of information children can find when using the computers, she added.
Patrons can access the library Web site features using their home computer simply by using their library card number.
Online visitors can also check for a certain book or a magazine article. Then, if they know the library has what they're looking for they can easily pop in to check it out.
"These databases are just phenomenal," O'Connell said.
Library visitors usually access the computers for entertainment and checking e-mail. Patrons can stop into the library after playing tennis or spending the day at the beach and get online to find a recipe. With their library card, they can now put up to $20 on it, so they can easily print what they need and go.
That also comes in handy, O'Connell said, if patrons type up letters or resumes.
Seasonal residents who use the library keep in touch with friends they've made in other cities, states, and countries, through e-mail at the computer stations. They see a lot of people come in just to check and write e-mail, she said.
"That's one way people have enhanced the friendships they've made," O'Connell said.
O'Connell hopes that library patrons take the time to explore the Web site to see all of the resources available to them. If patrons have questions or need help navigating through the databases, they can ask any of the library staff. For more information, visit www.lee-county.com/library.