The Boston Public Library (BPL) partnered with the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) to win $1.9 million in the first round of broadband stimulus awards in early December. The BPL plans to add at least 281 public terminals for accessing the Internet. Among the winning application's promises was to organize a schedule of Internet usage classes to go with the new computers.

"I can't emphasize enough that it's more important to teach people how to use this stuff effectively, rather than just plugging the terminals in and saying, 'Good luck,'" said Thomas Blake, digital projects manager for the BPL.

Blake said most computer questions from patrons to librarians were about basic usage, like how to open a browser, create an e-mail attachment and when and when not to double-click.

The city's main library will offer one class per day, while the other 25 branches will run a minimum of a single class per week. At least one class in Spanish will happen at a single branch per month as well.

"It might be that a basic class gets taught on Monday. Then a more advanced class happens on Tuesday. Every day you'll be able to walk into the central branch library and find some sort of training class," Blake explained.

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Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.