The Van Alstyne Public Library is a shining beacon in the community but its tech center has, in the past, let it down. Slow speeds, poor connections and outdated equipment left Library Director Tracy Luscombe, her staff and patrons wanting more.
Count the Voigt family in that latter group.
Trent and Sue-Lynn Voigt understood that their small-town library with its limited budget could use a helping hand. The Voigts decided to do something about the situation and stepped up to make a sizable contribution to the library and completely update its tech center with new equipment, routers, firewalls, cabling, well, you name it and the library’s tech center got it. The upgrade cost a cool $40,000, completely funded and supported by the Voigts. They even paid the internet cable bill for the remainder of the year; the entirety of the project is either being paid for or pre-paid by the Voigts. It wasn’t just money, however; Trent, the CEO of JetPay, brought his company’s hands-on technical expertise and know-how to bear on the situation, as well.
This project took root about a year ago when Sue-Lynn was talking with other members of her L.O.V.E. (Ladies of Van Alstyne Exchange) group. Some of the members didn’t have internet capability at home and used the computers at the library. They were lamenting the inability to finish going through documents for things such as veterans benefits as the slow computers would time out before the task was finished.
“Trent and I had looked a couple of different ways [to donate in the community.] We decided that donating [to the library] wasn’t for a specific slice of the community, it effects everybody and anyone can use it,” explained Sue-Lynn. “When we decided to do something for Van Alstyne that’s why we ended up coming to the library. It can be used by the whole community, and it’s an asset when people come to look at [the city] to say we have a technology center that’s as [good] as any office and probably rivals any of the big libraries in the area.”
“Oh yeah, I can guarantee that,” added Trent.
Trent used his cadre of tech experts and IT people to ensure the library would be at the forefront of speed and technology with computers that run I7 2.2 Gb processors (that’s fast, people) and are equipped with 8 Gb of RAM.
“They are very powerful,” said Trent.
There are 10 HP computers and 10 monitors (Trent specified that all machines must be the same) and all come with a three-year on-site service plan carried out by HP technicians. Cisco routers and firewalls can also divide staff and public use to keep the system running at peak speed and efficiency. To back this up, Trent ran a speed test before they brought new systems in and got maybe 1 megabit “on a good day.” The systems in place now are running at 12 megabits per second (again, very fast.) Each machine can get 12 megabits at the same time, making the new system 12 times faster than the old system.
“The other side of that is the old machines were a mix-match of machines and some things didn’t run so well [together.] These are all the latest and greatest and even have gaming cards in them,” said Trent.
To say that the new tech center will be vastly different than in the past is a severe understatement. This will be like making the jump from a go-cart to a Ferrari. Those who have used the library computers in the past are in for a treat, and Luscombe and the Voigts hope those who used the old system will come back and give the new tech center a test drive.
“You’ve had people come in here and they couldn’t get their stuff done, and that was a bad experience. Now we want to bring them back in and show them it’s all brand new and it’s all going to work good and the experience is back,” said Trent.
With so much need in the community — particularly with the older population, many of whom do not have internet, and students who need access to the cyber world to do their homework —the upgraded tech center could not have come at a better time.
“A child can have a research project and come here and do all the research, use the publishing and have their paper ready to turn in for school,” said Sue-Lynn.
“And a lot of the adults are going back and getting degrees, and they come in here and do their homework assignments here because they have to be done online or submitted online,” added Luscombe. “A lot of it is distance-learning programs, and they can do that here.
“We are thankful for the Voigts and all those in the Van Alstyne community for supporting this library,” added Luscombe. “We’re here to enrich people’s lives and these computers will help make that an achievable goal.”
For those who have not yet had the opportunity to experience the new tech center the library doors are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.