The Kansas City Public Library is doing its part to promote entrepreneurship with a soon-to-be opened learning and tech hub at the downtown Central Library.
The new, 2,100-square-foot space — named OneNorth Technology Center — will boast nearly four dozen computers, a dozen tablets and free access to a variety software. Among many offerings, OneNorth will provide audio-, video- and photo-editing software; a digital literacy certification program; and the professional development tutorial platform Lynda.com.
OneNorth doesn’t aspire to be just another computer bank, said Courtney Lewis, media relations coordinator for the Kansas City Public Library. The library hopes access to the center will also help close the digital divide.
“There is a digital divide here in Kansas City, and the library is playing a vital role in helping bridge that divide,” Lewis said. “We want all of our patrons to have access to all levels of digital skills. OneNorth helps our-specially trained staff work with patrons one-on-one to help assess those skills, and guide patrons on the best ways to advance those skills.”
The tech center will also be key to furthering local entrepreneurship efforts by providing necessary resources and training to new business owners, Lewis said.
“We know Kansas City has a thriving startup scene,” she said. “We know many people, on all levels, have great ideas but may not have the technology skills or computer software to help them turn their ideas into reality. We see this as a space where they can come in and assess what other computer skills they need to have, and then take the first steps in obtaining those. A lot entrepreneurs live or work in the Downtown area, so OneNorth in the Central Library is very conveniently located.”
Lewis added that she thinks free access to Lynda.com — which provides online tutorials in business, creative and technology skills — will be one of the larger attractions for area entrepreneurs. That access will be combined with other useful business resources such as the H&R Block Business Center.
If OneNorth proves to be successful, the library hopes to use the model in its other branches, Lewis said.
“Ultimately, we want to expand the concept out of OneNorth and into our branches, letting it serve as a model to implement computer services and training for staff and the public throughout our library system,” she said.
OneNorth cost about $250,000 and was made possible through funding from the William T Kemper foundation and the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, Lewis said . The center will open April 22.