Security software slows upgrade on library computers

Back in August, Mattapan’s Mildred Avenue Community Center became first in line for get upgraded computer services, with city of Boston officials hyping the distribution of more than 600 new computers with job training software to 47 other locations across the city, including other community centers and a number of libraries.

Nearly five months later, the upgrades are being delivered to most community centers – 15 so far – and 11 Boston Housing Authority developments.

But wiring up the libraries – including the Lower Mills branch, which was slated for closure last year before library officials pulled back after facing community outcry – is taking a little longer because of security software that needs to be installed, library officials say.

“We’re trying to do it in as many places as possible,” as quickly as possible, said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas Menino.

City officials, then still weighing the closure of four branches, had said at the time of the announcement that at least 22 library branches in the 26-branch system, would receive the upgrades.

The computers – 10 laptops at each branch – will provide literacy training and e-mail access to users. In all, 250 laptops will be distributed to the branches. “We’re distributing them on the basis that we have 26 branches open,” said library spokeswoman Mary Bender.

BPL officials are taking it slow, planning to begin upgrades at four branches next month.

The upgrades, an expansion of the Boston Broadband program, are being funded through $1.9 million in federal stimulus dollars. According to the administration, when the expansion is complete, about 18,000 people a week will be able to access the computers.

The upgrades also come as the city heads into another budget season where cuts in aid from the state are expected.

Library officials are gearing up for several roundtable discussions, including two next week. One on Tuesday at the Copley Square branch and the other on Wednesday at the Dudley Branch on Warren Street. Additional meetings are scheduled for March, including Tues., March 15, at Copley Square and Wednesday the 16th at the Codman Square branch.

All of the roundtables are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

The library system’s chief financial officer, Sean Nelson, will lead discussions that will cover library trust funds, capital budgeting, and budget planning.

“Over the past few months, many community members expressed an interest in learning more about the Boston Public Library’s budget,” Nelson said in a statement. “These gatherings are designed to address that interest and provide an overview of the steps in our annual budget process.”