POTSDAM - After just two months of operations, the new Public Computer Center at the Potsdam Public Library is already starting to pay dividends, according to Library Director Patricia W. Musante.
Ms. Musante told dignitaries at an official ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday that she recently entered into an agreement with an unnamed business that will see the company volunteer its own expert to teach computer literacy to the public, in exchange for utilizing some of the computer center's resources to better train its own workforce.
"They were so happy, it would save them money and it would help us out," Ms. Musante said.
Library, village and state officials were on hand Wednesday to unveil the new PCC in the basement of the Potsdam Civic Center. The center boasts rows of laptop computers, private meeting rooms and a conference center.
The facility has been built with the aid of a $244,000 grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Potsdam's portion of the money is part of a larger $9.5 million pool of stimulus money being used to build similar computer centers at 30 other locations across New York state.
Mary Ann Stiefvater, a New York State Library Development representative overseeing the program, praised library and community officials in Potsdam for their swiftness and resourcefulness in putting the grant money to good use.
She said statewide the computer center initiative is directed at improving digital literacy and assisting work force and economic development.
"To improve digital literacy is this huge umbrella," Mrs. Stiefvater said. "It means providing services to school-age children so that they have access to information and technology beyond the hours of school and beyond the facilities that schools provide."
Mrs. Stiefvater said the new center will also play a grassroots role in helping the unemployed train to find jobs, and to help businesses grow and expand.
"And how do you provide economic development? You provide economic development by having a better trained work force and by having businesses that can utilize technology in a way that will help their businesses grow," she said. "All of these things fit together in the concept of a public computer center."
Village Planning and Development Director Frederick H. Hanss said a number of people in the community, including himself, are already taking advantage of a Microsoft Excel training program at the computer center that, when completed, could result in professional certification in the software application.
He said he was also recently approached by a company employing approximately 50 people looking for a more cost-effective way to provide basic computer training for its workers and said he immediately thought of Potsdam's new library computer center.
"The types of education that they needed, basic computer literacy, customer service, were things that we recognized right off the bat as things that the library could perhaps provide," Mr. Hanss said. "This is great infrastructure to have from an economic development standpoint. It is going to be beneficial for everyone."
For more information on opportunities available at the Public Computing Center call 265-7230 or visit potsdamlibrary.org.