Just after school let out yesterday afternoon, the Windsor Terrace Library (160 E. 5th Street) became a symphony of children, parents, and other library goers – a place teeming with toddlers tapping away on brightly colored keyboards, teenagers grimacing at math equations on the monitors before them, and adults hunched over resumés.
It was a scene that has played out countless times before at an institution that is no longer solely a refuge for those seeking the written word, but has evolved into a cultural center that draws everyone from children clamoring to use the computers for video games and homework to adults looking for jobs and emailing family in far-flung countries.
And while library workers are thrilled that so many people are flocking to the facility that is part of the fifth-largest library system in the country, it has meant that there could be long wait times for the computer – something which has recently changed, thanks to a slate of new computers, for both children and adults, that arrived last week.
Neighbors this year voted in Councilman Brad Lander’s participatory budgeting process to allocate $75,000 for capital improvements at both the Windsor Terrace and the Carroll Gardens libraries, where there are now a total of 21 new adult and pre-school computers, as well as two Smart Boards.
Lander; Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson; Naila Rosario, government affairs manager for the Brooklyn Public Library; and Ianthee Williams, the neighborhood library supervisor at the Windsor Terrace Library toured the facility on East 5th Street yesterday to see the new technology that library workers said has been more than embraced by the community.
“I love when the libraries win in the participatory budgeting process,” Lander said of a system that Council members can choose to implement to directly involve community members in the decision about how to spend millions of taxpayer dollars. “This shows people love their libraries.”
At Windsor Terrace, there are four new pre-school computers and five new computers for adults, as well as one Smart Board, which Kairi Hollon, the facility’s technology resource specialist, said will help significantly boost the library’s programming for children and families.
“Every second Wednesday of the month, I do a family and gaming night, so this will be great to use then, in addition to everything else we do,” Hollon said.
The five new computers for adults doubles Windsor Terrace’s original number, and, prior to the new shipment, there were two pre-school computers.
“Before we had an hour-long wait for the computer – that’s been cut quite a bit,” Williams said.
Johnson stressed the difference access to computers at libraries makes in the city’s digital divide – according to Mayor de Blasio’s administration, 20 to 40 percent of Brooklyn’s households lack access to high-speed internet access.
“It’s not only about being able to read and write, it’s about digital literacy,” Johnson said of the role libraries now play. “The digital divide is very real.”