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libary for digital future

Expansion project wires
libary for digital future

The visual differences between the Rundel Memorial Building and the new Bausch & Lomb Public Library Building across South Avenue are striking.
The former wears an aura of gravity from the weight of its stone and the maturity of its years, while the latter shines through its sleek granite, skylights and open space.
Besides its four-story atrium, ivory- colored walls and red-oak furniture, the newer edifice boasts another feature that sets it apart: a wealth of computers.
The Bausch & Lomb Library Building is home to 88 computers accessible to the public. More than 70 possess graphical capabilities and allow access to the Internet. Once renovations are completed, Rundel will house 31 computers.
When Carol Joyce started working at the library in 1983, its computer technology consisted of a single mainframe. Subsequent incremental upgrades were made, from the purchase of CARL–the library’s software for cataloging and circulation–to a Unix platform that enabled text-based access to the Internet.
Now, with fiber-optic wire running through both buildings, acting as the backbone for the library’s computer network, anything is possible, says Joyce, the library’s systems analyst.
And because the new personal computers were acquired through a three-year lease and staggered in groups, with the option of either purchasing the equipment or upgrading, the library can keep up with the times.
The next step involves upgrading the network connections between the central library and the other branches. Joyce envisions conducting satellite classes from the central library using the local area network.
She hopes another library expansion will be under way in the next two to four years–one that involves public kiosks being installed in shopping malls and community centers. These kiosks, also equipped with fax machines and printers, would be interactive and offer library and government services.
Taking technology and information into the community, increasing both access and awareness, is another initiative the library hopes to build on.
“(Many people) are still hesitant to sit down in front of a computer. Those are the people who we can help,” says Richard Panz, director of the Rochester Public Library and Monroe County Library System.
A glass-enclosed room on the first floor of the new building is being used as a computer training room, with the aid of two grants. Panz notes that government and private-sector awareness of the gap between the “information-haves and the rest of society” has increased.
More people now realize that with financial support, libraries can help close the gap, Panz adds.
The library’s busiest division–business and government–occupies the top floor, overlooking Rochester’s downtown area. It shares space with social sciences and the Job Information Center. Fifteen PCs are located in the business and government division, with more to come, says Maria Stein, a business reference librarian. Patrons also have greater access to microfilm/microfiche machines and soon they will be able to use laser printers, payable with vendor credit cards.
Some of the computers contain data bases such as: Dun’s Business Locator, a listing of more than 10 million businesses in the United States that is updated twice a year and includes address and telephone information; F&S Index Plus Text, which contains an index of abstracts from trade journals on specific industry information; and ABI/ Inform, an index of general business articles from some 1,000 magazines.
And from the library’s information system called LIBRA–or Library Information Bridge for the Rochester Area–patrons can access the library system catalog for Monroe County as well as search magazine indexes that include full-text articles.
The LIBRAWeb Internet site at www.rochester.lib.ny.us includes many features of LIBRA, and from the Virtual Reference Desk users can jump to useful sites selected by Rochester librarians.
From the business/law/government page, 22 links can take a patron to resources such as the Better Business Bureau, the White House and EDGAR, a trove of information filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
One of the most popular subjects hit by patrons via their modems has been the Job Info Desk. Nanci Rosenberg-Nugent is one of the librarians who surfs the Web looking for useful job-related Web sites.
The state Department of Labor’s Job Search and the Western New York Jobs are two of the job-bank sites to which the library provides links.
There are 30 sites in all. Others include online references such as the “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” published by the U.S. Department of Labor, and the popular job-hunting book, “What Color is Your Parachute?”
Even though more than half of the job resources can be found electronically, “a lot of people (still) go right to a newspaper,” Rosenberg-Nugent says. One of the first places she directs job seekers to is a microfiche data base that keeps current the want ads of 64 regional newspapers across the country.
In addition, she adds, periodicals and newsletters provide a wealth of information that is industry-specific.
Besides information upgrades, both central library buildings soon will offer additional resources to Rochester’s business community.
The Rundel Memorial Building is undergoing work this summer that includes renovating the main atrium and adding a cafe facing the Genesee River. Both facilities will be rented out as a banquet hall to private and public organizations, Panz says.
In the new building, the main atrium and the Kate Gleason Auditorium, which seats 200 and is attached to an outdoor reading garden, are available for rent as well.

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