Forest Park bookworms can now freely roam about the library with ease and a laptop at hand. The Forest Park Library has started to circulate and rent out laptops to its patrons while they are in the library.

“We don’t have enough room in the library for the all the computers people need. The laptops let people go anywhere they want in the library,” says Ben Haines, reference librarian. “And the laptops allow us to be more flexible.”

The library started to rent out laptops on June 1. Anyone from ages 14 and up can rent one out for two hours. However, those aged 14 to 17 need to have a signed permission slip from parents to check out a laptop.

Each laptop is equipped with the same software as the desktop computers within the library, and external mice are available as well to accommodate for those tricky laptop track pads.

“We needed to accommodate more people,” says Kate Niehoff, adult services manager. “It’s practical for mothers and their kids. Being able to take the laptop anywhere in the library makes it easier for them.”

Niehoff said there was consistently a line that formed for the computers, so laptops seemed like a fix. Also, many library goers would commonly ask to use a scanner, which they did not have until recently.

“We know that a lot of people don’t have the certain capabilities on their own computers, so we are always taking suggestions,” says Niehoff. “I think the scanner will be really popular.”

People can find this photo device in the newly created media lab. The lab has two computers, including an Apple desktop, which the library recently acquired. Certain programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, GarageBand, and iMovie are all provided on the Apple computer.

“I’m looking forward to using all the programs. I can’t wait to use Photoshop with my own pictures and make them look really cool,” says Haines.

Another hi-tech addition that people can find in the lab is a graphic tablet. The tablet is directly hooked up to a computer when it is used. It allows people to draw their own pictures and designs and have them show up on the computer screen for printing or further editing.

“People can also use the pod casting station. They can bring their music in and edit it with all the programs on the Apple,” says Niehoff.

Unfortunately, that option is not unavailable right now because the pod casting device was recently stolen.

“We would like to get to a place where we could let people take the laptops and devices home with them, but for now we are here for the community and their needs,” says Haines.

People can call as far as a week in advance to reserve the room for a two-hour period.

Once the library realized the demand for more computers and more specialized programs, they asked that more of the budget be allocated to the technology department.

“We try to stay on the forefront of technology,” says Niehoff. “It’s important because it’s the way people stay connected and share information now.”

Internet access in the Forest Park Library is free with no password, so people can bring in their own laptops as well. The Wi-Fi reaches as far as 15 to 20 feet outside the building.

For the latest with the Forest Park Library you can follow them on Twitter @ForestParkReads. They are also on Facebook and MySpace.