Library, extension office offer internet access

William Thompson

The Tucumcari public library has a total of seven computers capable of providing internet access to the public free of charge. Also, the County Extension office for NMSU , located in the basement of the Quay County Courthouse provides four computers for public use.

Mary Ann Molinas, Head Librarian at Tucumcari Public Library, said the library has ordered two more computers.
“The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pays two-thirds of the cost for a computer,” said Molinas. “We pay $500 toward the cost and the Gates Foundation pays $1,000.”

Justin Bollinger, of the Quay County Extension office, said that the computers available to the public at his office are surplus computers.

“We had some surplus computers, so we thought we should put them in our learning center so the public could use them,” said Bollinger. “It doesn’t cost us anything extra to have the computers use our office’s internet service.”
Bollinger said about 40 people stop by to use the computers on a weekly basis.

“We have some regulars, and a few new faces each week,” said Bollinger. “We haven’t had any problems yet.”
One potential problem that Bollinger was referring to was the easy access children may have to sexually explicit material on the internet. Bollinger said it would be highly unlikely anyone would access such material in the Extension office’s learning center.

“Although we don’t have anyone monitoring what people are looking at on the computers, the computers are side by side,” said Bollinger. “Everyone in the room can see what’s on each screen.”

Librarian Molinas said the library’s computers have blocking software to prevent viewing of sexually explicit material.
The blocking software is not absolutely perfect,” said Molinas. “But we also have people sign a form stating that they know their computer privileges will be taken away if they are found to be viewing such material on our computers,” she said.

All of the library computers available for use to the public are in plain view of library patrons and staff.

Molinas said about 140 people per week sign up for hour-long sessions on the internet at the library. Library patrons can call the library ahead of time to reserve a block of time on a computer. The Extension Center office at the county courthouse does not limit a person’s time on the internet.

The public may access the Extension Center’s computers during normal business hours Monday through Friday.
The library charges 25 cents per copy for persons wanting to print documents from the internet. The Extension Office allows up to ten copies free of charge.

Internet access is also available to children at the Zero Gravity Youth Center on Main Street, but only for the purposes of homework and computer gaming.