Computer Commuter (bookmobile for computers & broadband) featured on Kare 11

computer commuter bus picWe’ve written about the Computer Commuter before. We took a tour of it in 2011. It is the tricked out van with computers and broadband touring Lac qui Parle County to give local residents a taste of Internet access. Fun news over the weekend – the Computer Commuter was featured on KARE 11 over the weekend as Minnesota’s only portal to the information highway that drives into town on one. It’s fun to see it get mainstream attention. …

“We heard a lot of people say ‘I can’t take an introduction to computer class, because I don’t even know how to turn it on,'” said Pamela Lehmann, executive director of the county’s economic development authority.

Lehmann said her organization initially considered locating a computer lab in one community, but ultimately settled on a bus, because we “just couldn’t pick” between the towns in the county.

Lehmann purchased the 17-year-old hotel shuttle bus on — where else — the internet.
“Yeah,” she laughed. “We bought it on Craigslist.”

The bus operates on a budget of $60,000 a year, primarily from grants from the TDF Foundation and Southwest Adult Basic Education. The Lac qui Parle EDA is currently seeking $30,000 to continue operations past June.

High speed internet is finally arriving in the county through fiber optics, funded by nearly $10 million in federal stimulus grants and loans. The first users logged on last month.

But Lehmann says the bus is needed more than ever – as a training vehicle. Talk about bridging both the information and generation gaps: at one work station 16-year-old Brooke Franzky taught Werner how to organize her family photos – nearly 70 years separating them.

You can see the whole story on the KARE 11 website.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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