When the Teen Advisory Board at the Collegedale Public Library suggested creating a Minecraft club this summer, library Director Natalie Wright was on board. So was the community — within the month, that club was full, and soon they opened up another club to elementary school-aged patrons.
But the popularity has created a challenge: There aren't enough computers for all the kids. The library has four laptops, so it's been difficult to accommodate the 10-15 kids who attend the program, even with staff members volunteering an additional two laptops for the club, Wright said.
With a new grant from the Tennessee State Library and Archives, that'll soon change.
The library received a technology grant of about $5,000 for four new laptops and two children's workstations in August, and those funds will be matched by the city, said Wright.
The children's workstations come in the form of new AWE computers, which are self-contained desktops with educational programs and games for children through elementary school. The idea is that kids can be left at the stations without the fear that they could "wander onto the not so great parts of the internet," Wright explained.
Previously the digital media manager at the Athens Regional Library System in Georgia, Wright started about a year ago as library director in Collegedale. She said she's excited to bring new technology to patrons, and with the help of this grant and funds from the city, to also begin offering larger-scale classes and clubs for children and adults.
Currently, the library offers one-on-one technology sessions to teach residents how to use essential applications like word processors, spreadsheets or to set up an email. But, since the laptops the library currently has are so old, they aren't able to use the latest software. The new laptops will, Wright said.
And for kids, access to technology not found at home can be a fun outlet. In the Minecraft club, kids work collaboratively to build rocket ships or houses and complete challenges set up by a librarian who leads the workshop.
"At any point, we offer a lot of different technology programs," Wright said.
The State Library and Archives awarded more than $350,000 in technology grants across the state, including $20,000 to the Chattanooga Public Library for computers and software for patron use.
Email Sabrina Bodon at firstname.lastname@example.org.