The Tarkington Community Library was in desperate need of new computers for patrons to use when Kasey Fuller, Tarkington community librarian, read about Operation Round Up—a program administered by the Sam Houston Electric Cooperative Charitable Foundation—in Texas Co-op Power.
“When I started (working at the library) in February of 2017, I began looking for grants for new computers,” Fuller said. “We desperately needed them. Every other day, I was on them to try to keep them running. We had three, and on a good day, we would have two of them running.”
Fuller is a longtime Sam Houston EC member, and she said she hoped the cooperative would be willing to help because the library is a local organization.
Fuller downloaded and submitted a grant application from the co-op’s website in May 2018. She applied for $3,500 to cover the cost of three computers and hoped she would get at least enough to purchase two computers for the library.
She got the grant.
“I was walking on air,” Fuller said. “I was very excited when I found out we got the full grant and we were able to buy all three computers. You buy top-of-the-line computers so they will last longer.”
The computers were installed and available for patrons just after Halloween, she said, and were put to use right away by middle school students using the library to do research for a school project.
However, the new computers are used for more than just school projects.
“On Cyber Monday, all three were being used because people were shopping,” Fuller said. “If you don’t live in a rural area, then you don’t realize it, but AT&T doesn’t even offer internet to over half the people in our area.
“We have people come in to do job-related training. We have a couple people that come in quarterly to keep up with training for their jobs. One lady will spend half a day on a computer for work.”
Leitha Ingram, Operation Round Up board member, lives in the Tarkington area. As a realtor and community member, she knows firsthand the impact the new computers will provide to Tarkington residents.
“Having a local library with resources like public computers can impact a community in big ways,” Ingram said. “It can help a parent who wants to get an online degree or look for a better job. It is a resource for local kids so they can do research for homework, submit applications to colleges, maybe apply for jobs or grants and scholarships for tuition.
“It can also simply be a way for people who have moved to our area to stay connected with their families through social media,” she said. “Being the internet society that we have become, not having internet access nearby is the modern-day equivalent of living in the Dark Ages.”