REGION — Libraries in Norway, Paris, Oxford, Waterford and Buckfield are among 11 Oxford County libraries that recently received new Dell laptop and desktop computers; Brother wireless printers with scanner, copier and fax capabilities; and Broadband internet upgrades.

As part of its work with the Maine West collaborative, the Northern Forest Center spearheaded the project to bring updated technology to local libraries. The collaborative is a partnership of local and regional organizations dedicated to addressing systemic rural challenges and enhancing community well-being in western Maine through increased collaboration across the economic, education, health and conservation sectors.

The project was also supported by the Maine State Library, Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation, and The Maine Community Foundation. Overall, $52,000 worth of equipment and upgrades were distributed to the 11 libraries. Each library contributed 15% of the cost of its new equipment.

Carol Madsen and Amity Lipsky, both of Waterford, make use of the new Dell laptops and Brother wireless printer at Waterford Library. submitted photo

Zadoc Long Free Library

5 Turner St.


“Everything is all set up and working incredibly well,” said library director Katie Clukey. “One of the computers we replaced was purchased with a grant 10 years ago. You can imagine how slow it was.”

The library was the recipient of two desktops, a laptop, broadband equipment and a printer.

“It came with all the software that goes with it, including Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative software suites,” she added.

Clukey is certain the equipment will have a big impact on the community.

“It is a wonderful addition to our town,” she said. “There are people who don’t have computer access at home so they come to us for access. This is going to be huge for our community.”

The library serves residents of Buckfield, Sumner and Hartford.

“Anyone can come in to use the computers but you have to live in one of those towns to get a library card,” Clukey said.

The library typically serves 30 to 50 patrons a day but Clukey expects the new equipment will draw more people.

“There really is an amazing need for this in our community,” she said. “Maine Forest Center was there for us throughout the entire process. I can’t say enough about them. We really have been blessed.

Norway Memorial Library

258 Main St.


The library received five desktops, improved Broadband internet equipment and a printer, said Beth Kane, library director.

“As you know, computers become obsolete quickly,” she added. “What we had were old and they were slowing down. The operating system on those computers, Windows 7, will no longer be supported come January. So, we really were in  need of new computers.”

Kane reiterated what other librarians said regarding the upgrades to the wireless internet. “The new network is robust and extends throughout the building,” she said. “We have a couple who visits the library daily to work. They have a camp here with no internet. Depending on where they were in the building, they had difficulties connecting to the old network. There are no connectivity issues now.”

Paris Public Library

37 Market Sq.


“The greatest benefit to the community is the ability to have wireless access 24/7,” said Director Mike Dignan. “It used to be limited outside of the building because the router was in a corner of the library. Now it extends from the building to the parking area.”

The connection is also faster due to a wiring upgrade. “The new cable is capable of carrying faster speeds. It used to be somewhere between 10 and 12 Mbps. Now we are getting speeds of about 60 Mbps,” he added.

The library, which has about 3,000 registered patrons, received three laptops, three desktops and a printer in addition to the Broadband upgrade.

“We purchased eight licenses for Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative software suites as our contribution to the project,” he said. “The programs have been installed on our new computers as well as our older equipment.”

The library serves residents of Paris and surrounding towns, Dignan added.

Waterford Library

663 Waterford Rd.


The library, which serves approximately 1,500 residents, received two laptops and a printer, said Director Nancy Eaton.

“We also updated the wireless internet service and relocated the router to give better range,” Eaton said.

The Adobe and Mircosoft programs make it easier for those away from home or without computers to work, she added.

“We are a little library but a lot of people rely on us for computer access,” Eaton said. “Either they don’t get a signal where they live, they can’t afford internet, or there are here for a short time. These upgrades are important for them to stay connected. They will certainly appreciate having better connectivity.”

Freeland Holmes Library

109 Pleasant St.


Director Glenda Drapeau said the library would be receiving one of the wireless printers but it had not yet been delivered or installed.

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