Welcome to our first installment of our “Got IT” serial articles where we profile the nonprofit organizations, students, and families who have received refurbished technology as part of give IT. get IT’s mission objective of increasing digital inclusion and equity in the State of Maine. We hope these testimonials provide ideas on how readers can use refurbished technology to further their own educational or cultural missions, and provide an inside look on how our corporate technology recycling clients and generous sponsors change the lives of Mainers.
For this Got IT profile, we feature the Bingham Union Library in Somerset County, Maine, one of Maine’s most rural and sparsely-populated counties with limited broadband internet service. Bingham, like many communities in Somerset County, has extremely limited access to high-speed internet, making its library a crucial resource for residents. In 2007, Bingham’s library received a refurbished computer from give IT. get IT (in its former iteration, PCs for Maine), and a personal access computer in 2015. Librarian Rachel L. Tremblay writes:
Thank you for your recent donation of a refurbished computer to the Bingham Union Library. It has been very helpful to have another computer for public internet access. Many patrons who come in to use the computer either do not have one at home or do not have internet access. Though the middle school students come into the library primarily to use the computers, while they are waiting they read books and magazines and do homework. Even though some of the students are using the computers more for recreation, at the same time they are learning how to use the equipment, how to search for information, and they are learning what other resources the library offers. As a result, in the last year, we have had an increase not only in library visits, but also in circulation of books and other materials.
Rachel provides a fantastic example of how technology complements non-digital mediums. At the Bingham Union Library, patrons who traditionally utilized books and magazines learned how to use a computer, and patrons who visited for the computers began to take advantage of the library’s book collection. Technology is a gateway to information, and libraries are a vital component of our information infrastructure.
Yet, a computer is only a tool, and the internet is only a resource – their true power can not be unlocked without the skills to navigate the web, identify credible information sources, format a resume on a word processor, establish an e-mail account, or to exercise best practices in data security and privacy. While digital skills training is an important aspect of give IT. get IT’s mission, we can not be present with each computer user every day. This is why libraries are so critical – librarians like Rachel Tremblay offer constant, personalized support and encouragement to help computer users build confidence and competency. As explained in Rachel’s thank-you note, Bingham Union Library is cultivating digital skills in young students, preparing them for success in both education and the workforce.
We are so grateful to help dozens of libraries around the state of Maine build their technology assets and develop support programs. If you know of a library that needs to bolster or refresh its computer lab to meet the needs of its patrons, recommend that the staff review the giveitget.org website to determine if our services would be a good fit. We have a simple online application where nonprofit organizations, schools, and libraries can request fast, high-quality computers and outstanding user support for the lowest possible cost.
And if you find yourself in the northern Kennebec Valley, stop by the Bingham Union Library to commend the staff on their excellent, innovative use of technology for the public good.