Baltimore Co. library officials plan to have all branches online by Sept. Perry Hall is the first to offer Internet access

July 16, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Kevin Stillmock, who is hooked, recalls his first time. It was barely a week ago, and it happened at his neighborhood library.

"I was just looking for a book and I saw the Internet, and I clicked on it and became addicted to it," said Stillmock, 18.

Since then, the Perry Hall teen has been a regular at his local library branch, where he trolls cyberspace for everything from articles on theology to satellite television listings and up-to-the-minute reports on Hurricane Bertha.

Eleven days ago, the Perry Hall branch became the first in the county to provide customers with a terminal that is just a mouse click from the graphics-happy data feast that is the Internet's World Wide Web. Assistant branch librarian Beth LaPenotiere says the new tool has not yet caught on, but she already has coached some wary users onto the system.

"We've had everybody from a fifth-grader to a senior citizen use it," she said. "They think it's 'cool' to 'wonderful.' "

Library officials hope to have the service available at all branches by September. The library system's foray into cyberspace is expanding on other fronts as well.

The county library established a World Wide Web site in early 1995, but much of it has been developed only within the past six months. The site offers information on the county -- including its demographics, government doings and library system -- as well as general topics such as sports and gardening.

The library is continually modifying and expanding its Web site by adding "links" to others. For instance, someone seeking information on gardening can be linked to a program that allows "virtual" gardening for those who don't want to get their hands dirty.

One step in building the Web site was to automate the community information file, including area nonprofit groups and social services organizations. Eventually, the system may be interactive.

For example, someone searching for help with dyslexia might be able to sign up for tutoring through the library Web site, said Lynn Lockwood, coordinator of information, marketing and programming for the library system.

More immediately, the library system is distributing fliers offering local businesses a free marketing opportunity. Lockwood said, "We want local businesses who have Web sites to give us their address, so we can provide a kind of yellow pages on the Web for Baltimore County businesses."

The address of the Baltimore County Public Library Web site is: http: //www.bcpl.lib.md.us

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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