Submitted by Columbia Basin Trust.
People in 16 communities will have the opportunity to access state-of-the-art technology for free as public facilities purchase items such as high-tech recording and digitization equipment, robotics kits, 3-D printers, scanners and software, and teach people how to use them. These projects are being realized with nearly $480,000 from Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Technology Program.
“This program helps communities meet the evolving needs of the people who live in them, increasing opportunities to access the latest technology and improve their digital literacy,” said Nicole MacLellan, Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “The ability to access and use technology is a must in today’s world. We were particularly pleased with the response from so many small and rural communities that are working to increase access and bridge the digital divide.”
Announced in fall 2018, this program provided grants to registered non-profit organizations, First Nations communities and local governments that operate public spaces like libraries and community centres. This final intake adds to the nine communities that received support earlier this year, bringing the program’s project total to 25 tech-enabled spaces.
Besides computers, specialized software and other equipment, the grants also enable the organizations to renovate their spaces and buy furniture to create suitable venues. They may also use the funding to train staff and volunteers so they can help residents use the new technology, and to provide barrier-free programming and training to the public, such as classes and workshops, one-on-one coaching and online resources.
Here are a few of the recent recipients:
Varied Opportunities Have Ongoing Impacts
The Invermere Public Library will install stations to create and edit photos, videos and audio; a station to convert old formats like VHS tapes into digital formats; several laptops and tablets; Ozobot and Dash robots; and more.
“People in Invermere will have free access to many technology‐based components that they might not otherwise be able to use,” said Nicole Pawlak, Director. “And library staff will be able to offer instructional programs that will lead people through the basics of using and creating with this equipment and software. They will then be able to transfer these skills and manage their way through other technology that they encounter in their daily lives.”
A Reading Room Branches Out
In Riondel, the Senior Citizens Association Branch 96 will work alongside the Riondel Reading Room to install a computer lab with printing and scanning, a video editing station and a virtual reality lab at the Riondel Community Centre.
“The range of equipment and programs will appeal to all ages and skill levels,” said Frances O’Rourke, Association President. “The activities available through these technologies will provide mental stimulus for our senior members and will provide opportunities for intergenerational activities with the community’s youth, contributing to a stronger, more integrated community.”
Opening Doors for All Users
The Valemount Public Library will purchase items like equipment to create and edit videos, robotics kits and virtual reality technology.
“Students will have more opportunities to access programs outside of school hours,” said Hollie Blanchette, Technology/Event Librarian. “Adults will have free access to new technologies. Robotics, coding and virtual reality help develop skills and promote creativity, communication and collaboration. The possibilities are endless as this equipment will open doors for everyone in different ways.”