City Council members lined up solidly behind Linebaugh Public Library’s plans to build a  Community Technology Center on the campus of Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro. Thursday night they voted to spend $400,000 as the city’s share of a project that is expected to cost between $1.7 and $1.8 million.

A stand-alone building on the Hobgood campus

Of the total, $1.2 million will fund construction of the 5,264 square-foot building, and the balance will be used to equip and furnish it.

To obtain a grant for half the cost from the Christy-Houston Foundation, a local charity, the library must raise the other half itself. In addition to the city, Linebaugh is seeking another $400,000 from Rutherford County and $100,000 from the state of Tennessee for funding.

Councilman Rick LaLance, who has worked on the project, made the motion to approve it.

“We tried to get some annual funding to try to get this thing built … to come up with a commitment to do something on a recurring basis,” he said. “And this is a way we can get it built. it’s a building that we’ll own no matter what and so it seems likely this would be a great way to get it started. It  is clearly the right thing to do. … to get kids, especially that can’t afford internet access,  to get them access ”

While technology centers exist already in other communities, this proposal may be one of the first, if not the first, to have a stand-alone building. It will be built in a corner of the campus next to Minerva Drive and Jupiter Place. If all goes well, the building could be open by January of 2017.

Wide-ranging benefits

The idea is to provide free or low-cost computer serve and training to people who can’t afford a computer or Internet service at home. By helping these people acquire computer skills, the library hopes to make them more employable. The center will also serve those  lifelong learners who lack Internet access.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, a large number of people living in Murfreesboro don’t have Internet service at home and would benefit from the proposed technology center. The building will also help small business people by offering them meeting rooms where they can meet with clients or collaborate with others to set up a new business.

 

Proposed layout of the building

Among other things, the center will offer different models of computers, e-readers, iPads, 3-D printers and CAD software. The preliminary plans for the building show four meeting rooms, a large computer room with 36 tables and chairs, a children’s area, break area, and a room to house the building’s server and tech department.

Gary Green, vice chairman of the library board, said a Pew Research study shows Americans want their libraries to teach patrons (especially children and seniors) how to operate gadgets from the digital age. The survey also found that Americans want library services that will help small business people, job seekers and people who want to upgrade their work skills.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

In other business, the council voted to:

— accept annexation petitions for two small parcels along Veterans Parkway and requests from the owners that each that be zoned Commercial Highway.

— Rezone 9.65 acres at the same location from Mutli-Family Residential to Commercial Highway. Speaking for the property owners, Will Jordan said residents in the neighboring Cloister development have been adamantly opposed to the muilti-family designation that exists now on the 9.65 acres. The change to Commercial Highway is an effort to make them a little happier. He said that since no one showed up at the public hearing to protest, the effort to make them happy has apparently succeeded.

 

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