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Donation allows Freeport library to transform tech center

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Steve Dorinsky, of Cheswick, (left) is shown working in the new technology center at the Freeport Area Library. Steve stops in at the library several times a month while he's in town visiting a friend. He was at the library during the unveiling of the tech center that David Michael (right) was attending on Friday, July 12, 2013.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Steve Dorinsky, of Cheswick, (left) is working in the new technology center at the Freeport Area Library at one of the several new computers. Dorinsky stops in at the library several times a month while he's in town visiting a friend. He was visiting the library during the unveiling of the library's tech center on Friday, July 12, 2013.

A corner of the Freeport Area Library has been transformed into a modern technology center.

“We used to have old, worn-out desks with old, worn-out computers that didn't work half the time,” said Donna Michael, president of the library board of directors. “We made do, but we were always fixing.”

The Freeport Area Library on Friday unveiled its new technology center — with three new desktop computers, one laptop and a wireless printer.

The center was made possible through a $25,000 donation from NiSource Midstream Services, a Columbia Pipeline Group company.

The space features a dark brown, hardwood floor, a contemporary, white wooden-slat wall, a partitioned workspace for each computer and ergonomic furniture.

Patron Steve Dorinsky, 61, of Cheswick said it was a surprise to walk in and see the new computer area.

“I thought it was pretty neat,” said Dorinsky, who uses both the Freeport and Springdale libraries. “There's more room now.”

Michael said the library chose local companies to do the work, including Salsgiver Internet and Telecommunication Services, which provided the computers and networking services.

The Canvas Art & Gift Shop in Freeport will provide rotating artwork for the space.

The library hopes the technology provides younger members with an additional resource and older residents with a tool to improve basic computer skills.

The library has about 1,400 cardholders.

NiSource is the company that installed a 57-mile, high-pressure natural gas pipeline that runs through many Alle-Kiski Valley communities from Butler Township to Westmoreland County.

Library Association board member Kay Covone, also a member of the South Buffalo Township Planning Commission, learned that NiSource had grant money available for nonprofits from a NiSource representative who attended a commission meeting to discuss the pipeline project.

The library had to complete an extensive grant application, said head librarian Nancy Hagins.

“We wrote that's what we wanted to do: put a whole new center in and make it a place where people want to come,” she said.

It's important for the library to have upgraded technology because the facility proctors tests such as real estate licensing exams and teachers conduct tutoring there, Hagins said.

State Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, who represents portions of Armstrong and Indiana counties, said libraries are an important resource in any community.

He said he spent many hours in a library as a child.

“My mom valued reading, and I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that valued education,” Pyle said during remarks at the library's open house.

Freeport Mayor James Swartz Jr. said he was pleased to hear about the donation.

“That's good for the library, because we don't get any state money for our library,” he said.

Hagins said people from any community can buy a Freeport Area library card.

The cost is $15 for a family, $10 for adults and $2 for children.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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