The Hernando County Public Library's fastest-growing role in supporting the community is as an e-government access provider and pathfinder.
Whenever you need help with the Internet, the "information superhighway," you should think of contacting the reference department at your nearest library.
All branches of the Hernando County Public Library have computers with Internet access available for public use. All of these computers are connected to printers, allowing our patrons to print paper copies of online forms. Our librarians are prepared to help you with any Internet need. The librarians' expertise is especially useful in negotiating the ins and outs of e-government.
What is e-government?
As defined in the E-Government Act of 2002, e-government is "using Internet-based information technology to enhance citizen access to government information and services." Federal and state governments have created access to forms, documents and officials to provide broader service.
Submitting forms online has become the norm. From income tax returns to unemployment compensation claims to passport renewals and driver's license appointments, official government forms can be completed and submitted online. Online submission on a government Web site guarantees instant receipt of your information by the appropriate government agency.
Where online submission is unavailable, forms can often be printed from the Internet, eliminating the need to wait for them to come through the mail. The completed forms can then be mailed or faxed back to the appropriate agency.
Government publications of all sorts are available online. Some are as long as the 9/11 Commission report. Others are as short as a flier for activities at a state park.
Pamphlets from the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science offer advice on selecting a turf grass. You can even find tips from the federal government on keeping small business information systems safe from hackers.
Assistance for locating the right government publication is available online at the Florida Government Information Locator at dlis.dos.state.fl.us/fgils/ and the U.S. government's official Web portal at www.usa.gov, and, of course, at your library.
Fortunately, not all government communications are as impersonal as forms and publications. Many government agencies now provide blogs. A blog, short for "Web log," is an interactive Web site where the government employee and the interested citizen can interact directly. A list of federal government blogs, active and archived, can be found at: www.usa.gov/topics/reference_shelf/news/blog.shtml. GovGab, a blog maintained by six federal employees, is especially interesting.
If you visit the library to complete online forms, please be sure to bring all documentation you might require to complete the form during your visit. Remember that not all forms can be saved before they are completed. If you know you will need more than a one-hour session to complete your e-government interaction, please contact the reference librarian on duty to see if your need for additional time can be accommodated.
Your e-government needs might also be met at the Hernando County Health and Human Services Department. Their offices are on the first floor of the Hernando County Government Center at 20 N Main St., Brooksville.
The Health and Human Services Web site states the department's commitment to "providing the necessary resources and assistance to the citizens of Hernando County in need of access to programs for health services, transportation and temporary financial needs such as: emergency prescriptions, electric bills, elderly services, food, shelter, abuse, child care, disabilities, counseling and many other areas."
Visit their Web page at www.hernandocounty.us/healthand humanservices/ and see all they have to offer, including an online information request form.
Overall, Hernando County residents should have no trouble finding the help they need to make use of e-government by contacting their information professionals at the Hernando County Public Library.
If you have any questions about e-government or using one of the library's Internet computers, please contact the information desk at 540-6392 (West Hernando Branch), 540-6374 (Spring Hill Branch) or 754-4043 (Brooksville Main Library).
One of our reference librarians will be glad to assist you.
Anthony Adams is a reference librarian for the Hernando County Public Library.