The Mississippi State Library Commission fulfills many roles for the states public libraries. The Mississippi Library Commission seeks ways to assist the public libraries in reaching the underserved segments of their service populations. The agency offers consulting services, access to a collection of over 200,000 volumes, coordination of interlibrary resource sharing, reference assistance, and access to information not readily available in rural communities.
The goal of the Libraries Online! project in Mississippi is to provide assistance to residents in counties with the poorest per capita personal income as noted by Labor Market Information Department, Mississippi Employment Security Commission; Population-Personal Income Data; United States, Mississippi and Counties, 1989-1994. (In 1994, the national average of per capita income was $21,896, while Mississippis average per capita income ranged from a low of $9,767 to a high of $19,601.)
In the second year of its involvement with the Libraries Online! project, the Mississippi State Library Commission has built on the accomplishments of last years project. The original 18-county project was expanded to include an additional 10 counties in the rural state of Mississippi. Each county library has installed a workstation with access to multimedia CD-ROMS, productivity software (word processing, desktop publishing and spreadsheets), the Internet, and the statewide information network. Another component of the state-wide Libraries Online! project is the training of library staff and patrons on this new technology and resources.
Initial training was provided by the Library Commission staff immediately after the libraries received additional hardware. The initial training introduced library staff to the equipment and provided an overview of new software resources and the Internet. In addition, in-depth training was provided to the library systems designated technology coordinator on the installation, operation and maintenance of security-access software, anti-virus software and CD-ROM installation procedures. Once the "trainers were trained," library patrons benefited from the computer support that local library staff were able to provide.
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