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Bell Atlantic brings the Internet to Shamokin and Coal Township Library

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The new capability is provided through a partnership between Bell Atlantic and the state Department of Education.

Eager to surf the Net? Want to know what all the talk is about? Wander over to the Shamokin and Coal Township public library. It now has an Internet connection open to the public and trained librarians that can help users explore the wonders of the worldwide network. The library is located at 210 E. Independence St. in Shamokin.

The new capability is provided through a partnership between Bell Atlantic and the state Department of Education. Civic leaders and members of the library board of directors toured the facility at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Fri., Dec. 6 that officially opened the new Internet site.

Initially, the library's Internet connection will be available on a computer terminal with graphics capabilities in the main reference area. Anyone may use the terminal during regular business hours on a first come, first served basis.

Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania donated $750,000 last spring to launch "OnLine at PA Libraries." This initiative is connecting 188 public libraries across the state to the Internet, as well as providing hardware and software, and training librarians to go on-line.

"This project is part of Bell Atlantic's Pennsylvania Advantage initiative -- our commitment to improving education, health care and economic development for all Pennsylvanians," said William Harral, Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania president and CEO.

Libraries are ideal sites for Internet access, enabling individuals to access a multitude of information sources. Even in Pennsylvania's rural areas, the focus of this project, no one is more than 10 miles from a library."

Education Secretary Eugene W. Hickok praised the project as a strong complement to "Link to Learn," Gov. Tom Ridge's $121 million statewide initiative to expand use of technology in education, including public libraries. In accepting Bell Atlantic's donation last April, First Lady Michele Ridge said, "Technology is our link to the future . . . expanded access to the Internet will empower Pennsylvanians of all ages with information that educates, improves life skills and connects them to a world of opportunity."

The Internet is a worldwide "network of networks" with an estimated forty million users. Because of its low cost and almost unlimited reach, people of all ages are discovering the power of surfing the Net. Using simple point-and-click devices, users can find almost any type of information from the price of a new car to the latest medical research. They can access government data bases, browse through museums, or view the universe through the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope.

To qualify for the Bell Atlantic grant, libraries submitted an application and agreed to dedicate an individual for training. The process was administered by the state Department of Education which also selected the equipment and coordinated the training. In addition to OnLine at PA libraries, Bell Atlantic also has presented grants totaling over $2 million to bring the latest technology to the Commonwealth's communities and classrooms.

Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.