Source: Arielle Kass, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
When Atlanta-Fulton County’s Central Library closes for renovations this summer, Latricia Mays will no longer be able to log on to computers there when she has business that can only be conducted online. Daren Carland will have to find somewhere else to respond to emails. And Robert Robinson will need another way to look for jobs.
In March alone, more than 4,000 people went to Central Library downtown to use the computers, often several times a week. And the library’s closure — which could last as long as two years — will disrupt a downtown ecosystem that provides both services and shelter for people who come into the building for everything from Internet access to air conditioning.
One of those needs will be met with a pilot program that will bring wifi and laptop computers to Woodruff Park, a scant two blocks from the downtown library. Beginning this summer, Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System are partnering to bring as many as 10 laptops to the park two to four days a week for four to six hours a day.
It won’t be able to completely fill the need for Internet access, but organizers hope it will make a dent, particularly for the homeless population and other underserved or underemployed individuals who often make use of the library’s Internet access and computers. And, they say, the closure could even have the benefit of forcing a problem that’s hidden inside the library to the forefront, resulting in more programs or services to help the homeless.
“It could be a positive, unintended consequence,” said Ansley Whipple, the project manager for Woodruff Park with Central Atlanta Progress.
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