RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — When the library’s open, residents are logged on.
Richland Library Southeast, the largest of 10 branch libraries, also has the most computers – and there’s often a wait to use them.
“We’re getting a lot of those rural users who either don’t have Internet access, or have slow, dial-up access,” library manager Sarah Maner said last week.
“So they’re coming in to use our computers for high-speed access to do things like apply for jobs, create resumes or do basic things like check their email that they can’t do at home.”
The southeast branch has 33 computers, plus nine laptops for use in the building and two iPads.
Four other computers are reserved for use by children, and another one for teens.
If voters approve a property-tax increase for libraries Nov. 5, the southeast branch would be renovated and enlarged by 2,680 square feet.
Part of the extra space would be for four additional study rooms, typically reserved as quiet space for students on laptops.
The $59 million library-improvement package would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $12 to $14 a year in property taxes, officials have said.
Last week, Hopkins resident Theartra Davis checked out one of the library’s laptops and slipped into a study room to apply for jobs, as she does three times a week.
“I like the fact they have a private room,” she said. “It’s very quiet, and you get the laptop for two hours.”
Davis said prospective employers no longer allow people to walk in to apploy for a job; they want to see an application online. And since she doesn’t own a laptop right now, she said, stopping by the library is convenient.
Across the library, Paul Widmayer was working at a bank of computers, every one of them filled.
“It’s busier after work,” he said. “You generally have to wait until somebody is done.”
Library spokeswoman Laura Bliss Morris said 70 percent of the time the library’s open, every public computer in the building is being used.
Here’s more about the changes planned for Richland Library Southeast, at 7421 Garners Ferry Road, if voters approve the referendum:
• Space for two partner organizations, such as health and human service groups
• Learning lab for 12 students
• Four tutoring or small conference rooms
• 1,200-square feet of meeting space, including storage and kitchen space
• Addition of outdoor programming space
• Repaving of parking facilities.
With changes made to libraries throughout the system, Richland Library Southeast would become the second-largest branch library, behind the new Sandhills library in Northeast Richland.
Where would the money go?
On Nov. 5, the library is asking Richland County voters for permission to borrow $59 million for systemwide improvements. Some highlights:
Main library: Renovation and reconfiguration. New heating and air systems; multipurpose meeting space and conference room; exterior improvements for families with strollers.
Ballentine: New library. Seventy-person meeting room and conference room.
Blythewood: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Teen space, meeting room, larger restrooms, learning lab, group study room.
Cooper: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Teen space, 12-student learning lab, two tutor rooms or small conference rooms. Expand meeting space with kitchen.
Eastover (completed in April): Renovation and expansion. Meeting room, tutor room and additional computers. Children’s area by EdVenture.
Northeast: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Small conference room, 12-student learning lab, expand meeting room with kitchen.
North Main: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Teen space, 12-student learning lab, two tutor rooms or small conference rooms, expand meeting room with kitchen.
Sandhills: New library. Lounge and exhibit space, 250-500 seat auditorium to be shared with a partner organization, computer area in children’s department.
Southeast: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Four tutoring or small conference rooms, meeting space with kitchen.
St. Andrews: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Teen space, meeting room with kitchen.
Wheatley: Renovation, reconfiguration and expansion. Increased children’s space.
For all the details, see http://richlandlibrary.com/about