Santa Paula Times

Blanchard Community Library thanks community partner

December 29, 2000
Santa Paula News
Several years ago, federal grants became available to provide access for the Internet for the public in libraries throughout California. The California State Library supports this project with funding made available under the Library Services and Technology Act. “Internet For People: Connecting People Through California’s Libraries” or InFoPeople for short, provided grants to hundreds of communities throughout California for the purchase of computers, connectivity and training. One of the requirements of the grant is for the libraries to have a link in the community, thereby opening doors to groups not previously affiliated with libraries. A member of the community was needed to make a long-term commitment to the library, a commitment that represented a considerable investment of personal time. The library looked for a person willing to make this commitment for years. The first part of their commitment involved attending “Internet Boot Camp,” five day-long courses spaced over five months and held at California Lutheran University, plus a number of one month long distance education courses. In addition, the volunteer was required to assist in developing a community plan, offering technical assistance, providing assistance in establishing Internet usage policy, and helping provide public Internet training. Blanchard Community Library tried for several years to find a person who was willing to volunteer as a community partner.Bob Binsley, a self-proclaimed computer nerd, became the library’s willing and incredibly capable community partner in 1999. He is an example of an ordinary person who does extraordinary things to improve his community. He cheerfully spent long days in Thousand Oaks, sitting at a computer for hours to become computer literate and ready to help library patrons with their Internet research. Many afternoons of his time were devoted to assisting with policy and developing a community plan, all requirements of the InFoPeople project.In late January of 2000, thanks to Bob, Blanchard Community Library opened its Internet Center and provided free access to the people of Santa Paula. Since its inception almost one year ago, people from Santa Paula are increasingly taking advantage of the computers and Internet access. Last year the library had no public Internet access; this year, in just eight months, close to 4,500 people enjoyed access to the latest technology. This month alone over 1,000 people used the computers.The Internet allows Blanchard Community Library to reach out beyond its walls to resources previously unavailable to a small public library. Our community library becomes a global library when we offer people throughout the world the ability to do business in their own country right here in Santa Paula. We have people from Ireland, Belgium, Russia, Mexico, Australia and Italy using our Internet Center. A local patron communicates on a regular basis with his grandparents in Brazil.
The Internet Center is not the only area in the library that has benefited from Bob’s enthusiastic support. The California Room, dedicated to local and California history, has also benefited. Bob and his wife, Marti, have assisted Craig Held, the curator from the Historical Society, for over two years in cataloguing over 2,000 items.Santa Paula is truly fortunate to have received Bob Binsley’s support and the generous donation of his valuable time. He was honored at the library’s holiday celebration held on December 15.