The Virtual Village offered computers and assistive technologies
Customers at work in the Virtual Village
MeckTech computer distribution program
Free Wi-Fi on hygiene vehicles provide internet access to neighbors experiencing homelessness
Customers at work in the Virtual Village

In the 1990s public internet access was considered innovative, but by the early 2000s home computers were common and affordable. In 2001, your Library redefined public access to technology.

This space housed the Virtual Village, a playground for new technology. Bob Cannon, the Library director at the time, called it “an unparalleled public resource.” All the library’s branches had computers for word processing and internet access, but the Virtual Village featured the newest equipment and special stations for music editing, video production and photo manipulation. Most notably, the Village offered assistive technologies to provide access to people with visual impairments or movement limitations.

The Village also included classrooms for a wide range of very popular, free technology classes.

Today, technology reaches far beyond the walls of a lab or a “village.” Your Library’s digital inclusion initiatives address the challenge of digital equity through initiatives like MeckTech, which refurbishes and distributes laptops to households that need them, free computer skills classes, expanded Wi-Fi access in neighborhoods and through partnerships with organizations like Hope Vibes and Project Outpour.

The new Main Library will be infused with technology throughout, and will continue a commitment to making new technologies – including a data visualization studio, an immersive theater and a state-of-the-art technology lab – accessible to all.

This audio tour was created using resources from your Library’s Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room.