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Child’s Play: Touchscreen computers get kids into technology

    In this high technology age, computer literacy is becoming increasing important for younger and younger children.

     So the Lincoln County Public Library is promoting computer education with two Advanced Workstations in Education computers in the children’s section.

     Although AWE computers are available in a number of levels, the library’s are both set up for the Early Literacy Station level, which is for children aged two to 10.

     Donna Kenney, the children’s librarian, said the computers encourage learning in a wide range subjects, from phonics and reading to math and science.

     “Kids love them,” she said.

     The computers were paid for mostly from grant money, specifically from the Walmart VAP program. Walmart provides grant money when employees volunteer at least 20 hours within a specific time period. Kenney said Frederick Charles, with the Walmart Distribution Center, worked hard to get the money for the local library. Other grant money and library money helped make up the difference.

     The computers have been available for several years, but the library was not able to acquire them initially.

     “We didn’t have the money, but by being able to combine grant monies, we were able to get them,” she said.

     The computers each have a keyboard and mouse that is specifically designed for children. The keyboard is color-coded so that children can quickly identify consonants, vowels and punctuations. The computers also can be operated through touch screens.

     Kenney said the units are easy to navigate, except sometimes getting out of the programs.

     “You have to know the tricks, which I willingly share with the kids,” she said.

     The computers can also help older children because of the typing programs. Kenney said some children as old as 13 or 15 want to use them to try to learn how to keyboard.

     The computers are available for anyone’s use, but when there is a line, there is a 30-minute limit in place. The computers do not have access to the Internet and do not allow printing.

     Kenney said the computers are an important tool to offer to children, especially those who may not have one at home.

     “I’m not a big computer person, but computers are a reality,” she said. “In the modern society, computers exist and children need to be prepared.”

     The children’s computers work in conjunction with the other computers in the library to provide computer and Internet services to everyone. The AWE units just reach out to a new demographic of the population.

     “It gets people to come into the library who might not be big readers,” Kenney said.