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Libraries, Major Tech Firm, Work to Close Digital Divide

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Libraries, Major Tech Firm, Work to Close Digital Divide
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U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker Speaking at Workshop
Desare Frazier

Mississippians are getting help to expand their digital skills with the help of libraries and a major search engine company. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Often libraries are the only place where people can get to a computer because of the expense. That's according to Patty Furr, with the Jackson-Hinds County Library System. Last year she says some 221,000 people used one of the 14 libraries in the system. Furr says 55 percent of them are looking for a job.

"This is so critical. We see so many people in their 40's or 50's who cannot get a job. You can't even dig a ditch any more without having some kind of electronic component and being computer illiterate," said Furr.

Furr says they teach people computer skills and have a software program what will build resumes. Monday, she's at the the library in Clinton, where Google is providing workshops that range from how to look for a job online to expanding a business' internet presence. Charlotte Smith is with Google. She says by partnering with libraries they can help advance the training provided in rural communities.

"We have people who will be trained today to help guide those folks who need consistent access to the internet through some of the tools we're presenting today," said Smith.

Businessman Tim Manning of Jackson wants to expand his IT operations.

"I'm really interested in how we can work with Google on growing organically through the Google search engine," said Manning.

Google also provided workshops at a Hattiesburg library.