Agency offers on-line computer tour of local events throughout the year

January 18, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Sign onto a computer anywhere in Maryland and find out what is happening in Carroll County.

The 1995 Calendar of Events, published by the Office of Tourism, will be on-line in Carroll County Public Library computers by March 1.

Last spring, Carroll County became the first county in the state to publish its events electronically, although in an incomplete version. Tourism officials, pleased with the response, plan to computerize the full calendar every year.

Scott Reinhart, library assistant director for technical and support services, said it would be difficult to calculate how many callers accessed the calendar, but the dial-in lines are continually in use.

Now, an electronic version of the printed calendar gives a user a list of activities and events in Carroll County from March through December. The library staff can amend the electronic version continually.

"Now, if you miss the printed deadline, you have an alternative," said Joan D. Meekins, tourism director, particularly for organizations that plan events after printed calendar deadlines have passed.

The Office of Tourism edits and forwards information as the office receives it. Several popular events, such as the Maryland Wine Festival, are listed under Community Resources.

"It looks sparse now because we are still collecting information," Barbara Beverungen, assistant at the tourism office, said yesterday at the bimonthly meeting of the Tourism Association. "Within 30 days, there will be stacks of information."

Anyone with a computer and modem anywhere can find out what Carroll County has to offer visitors through SAILOR, a program of the Maryland Library Community. Residents can also walk into any of the five library branches, find printed directions for accessing SAILOR and sign on to the system.

"Say you have family coming in and you want to know what's available; you can search by date or by title," said Gail Griffith, assistant library director, who helped demonstrate the system for association members yesterday.

She entered "Christmas" into the computer and came up with several events already set for December. Each listing gives a brief description as well as an information number. More entries, some with pictures, will be coming on-line soon, she said.

"Take a look at the electronic information available today and get just a glimpse of what will be available in the next few months," said Mr. Reinhart, who promised "really pretty pictures this spring."

Community organizations also are listed electronically and updated every week. Mr. Reinhart keyed in "Carroll County Equestrian Council" and found several spring and summer events.

"We got our information into tourism in a timely fashion," Carolyn Garber, council president, said.

The Office of Tourism edits all information for the calendar.

"Nothing gets in, unless Tourism says it gets in," Mr. Reinhart said.

Ms. Meekins said she would like written notice two weeks before an event.

"The earlier we have the information, the better it is for you," Ms. Beverungen said. "Once the library gets it, the staff is really good about getting it into the calendar."

Mr. Reinhart also demonstrated a mosaic server program, created with federal grant money. He took the association on an electronic tour of Napa Valley wineries.

Lodging, maps and directions, points of interest, everything a tourist wants to know about any site is a touch of the fingertips away, he said.

As Mr. Reinhart clicked through commands on a computer screen, Linda Mielke, library director, said Maryland had pioneered the project.

"This is not as complicated as it seems," she said. "The library community has made it easy and it's getting easier all the time."

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