Personal computers have become almost as important a part of modern life as cars and televisions. The Internet offers access to information we all need. However, using computers and the Internet remains a mystery to many of us.
Where can Hernando County residents and visitors go for help with computer and Internet needs? The Hernando County Public Library, that's where.
All four branches of the county library offer computers with access to the Internet. The librarians can supply basic on-the-spot assistance to support you in your research. With all library computers connected to printers, you can print out your results.
The computers all use the Windows XP operating system and can be relied on for consistency from branch to branch. The Microsoft Office 2003 package is installed on all public access computers, as are programs for photo editing and other practical uses. The computers also have some games installed, so you can wind down from your research and productivity by playing a game.
Don't know as much as you'd like about computers? The West Hernando and Spring Hill branches offer free computer classes September through May. There are usually three two-hour classes per month. Librarians teach basic computer skills, like mousing and Internet searching; more in-depth instruction in specialized areas, such as using Microsoft Word and practicing Internet safety, is also available.
Contact the reference desk at either branch for the class schedule (West Hernando, 540-6391, or Spring Hill, 540-6374). Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month before the class is held. You will need to register at the branch where the class is being offered. Class size is limited, and classes are not offered during the summer.
Know your way around the computer pretty well? The library's computers are available for public use from 9:30 a.m. until 10 minutes before closing, Monday through Saturday. Computers can be reserved for 15- or 55-minute sessions, depending on your needs. Reservations are limited to two a day per user.
The computers permit use of CDs, DVDs, flash drives and any portable device that links to a computer with a USB 2.0 or lower connector. You will need to come prepared with your own storage media, because information cannot be saved on the library's computers.
Looking for wireless access? The library offers that at no charge. At present, wireless access is unlimited in terms of both time and bandwidth, so bring your laptop to the library. More information concerning wireless access is available on the library Web site at www.hcpl.lib.fl.us/wireless_internet.htm.
Do you need five minutes of access to check your e-mail? Or two 55-minute sessions to conduct genealogy research? Maybe you need to print boarding passes, a resume or an income tax form.
The Hernando County Public Library has the materials you need to meet your computing needs. Come into any of our branch libraries, and a staff member will be happy to assist you.
Anthony Adams is a reference librarian for the Hernando County Public Library System.