The new “cyber cafe” will be an expansion of the already existing computer space located next door in Pirtle’s Ice Cream shop. It is intended to be a location for community members to become more familiar with technology, for students to be able to work on homework, and it is intended to be a small business support center. The space will have a copy center and printing area as well as be used as an instructional space for basic computer use. Although the intention is to continue to allow free computer access to local community members, it is hoped that the cyber cafe will generate enough income to be self-sustaining, and allow for minimal maintenance expenses.
- To facilitate and support small business growth in East St. Louis
- To supplement the local education system as a space for homework assistance
- To support job searching and other adult educational services
- To provide computer access to residents in close proximity to the Cyber Café
- Local students and youth by providing access to computers, collaborative space for homework, web browsing, and word processing. As well as providing links to resources for homework assistance and educational games.
- Small business owners by providing access to office and accounting software and essential hardware (copier, scanner, printer). The Cyber Café is intended to be a stepping stone for the small business owners, therefore some of the software will be open source, which business owners will be free to use when the business expands to include computer/web connection.
- Job searchers by providing access to computer-based resume templates as well as identify job searching resources on the internet.
- Nearby community members that lack access to technology by providing simple access to computers, the Internet, and simple computer training through written instruction and podcasts.
As the above pictures show, the current space is virtually a blank slate. Since these pictures were taken, all walls and ceiling have been painted with at least one coat. Flooring will be installed and second coats of paint will be going up in October. Martin Wolske, in consultation with the property owner, has provided a design for the computer layout which attempts to meet the needs of the entire user community.
As a Cyber Café, this space is all about the computers. That being said, the design needs to continue to allow for collaborative spaces. The space needs to have several sections. There must be a location for the printer and copier. It will be located close to the front door and window, and will be in close proximity to the desk housed by a volunteer, and eventually an employee hired to assist customers with their computer questions. There will be several areas allowing for collaboration by having multiple computers on one table. The collaborative spaces will be located in the more open area, with high ceilings–ideal for creativity. In an area under a soffit, individual computers with large work areas will be housed allowing for more detailed focus. The vision is that this will be the small business support area. The walls have been wired for LCD monitors which will be ideal for projection of instruction information. Although LCD monitors will not likely be included with the current installation, we want to have the wiring and resources available for their eventual inclusion in the space.
To make the space user friendly, there will be an inclusion of three tiers of lighting. At the request of the owner, we hope to include vertical blinds for the windows.
Other community resources or decorations in the space:
- We would like to include in the space a kiosk with information pamphlets from community resources to include health information, library schedules and programs, other items of local interest.
- We would like to include a cork board for use to put up articles or bulletins of local interest.
- We would like to include memorabilia from Pirtle’s Ice Cream Shop, such as photos taken from the “truck”, pictures of the owners over its history, or other local memorabilia.
- We would like to use simple and inexpensive decorations, such as embroidery rings, and mirrors.
- Painting has already begun, and consultation with Mr. Pirtle will continue to be certain that the design meets his approval.
- We would like to display work from local artists for sale on consignment.
Resources already available either from current owner or community donation
- Resources for painting and construction of the space have already been provided or are being provided
outside of the technology budget.
- Labor for construction and painting has been provided by other classes, ESLARP, and members of the LIS 451 Pirtle’s crew.
- 12 Computers have been donated for the space, and include monitors, keyboards, and mice.
- A black and white printer will also be donated.
- Resources have been provided for built-in counters and desk chairs.
- There will be fluorescent lights in the ceiling and other lights around the walls.
Resources we hope to obtain
- At least one LCD screen
- Display case or cases for art work
- Kiosk for pamphlet display
- Desk lights
- Wall decorations
- The owner will lease or purchase a color copier/fax/scanner.
The project has an additional budget of $700.00 for technology paraphernalia.
- MS Word License $360.00
- RJ45 Jacks (10 at $16.00) $160.00
- Face plates (14 at $1.77) $24.78
- Switches (4 at $30.00 and 1 at $80.00) $200.00
- Coax F Connectors (10 at $3.00) $30.00
There is a balance that will need to be achieved in this space. It is intended to be free and open to the public in general. There is however, an expectation that this space will be self-sustaining, and eventually sustain at least one employee, as well as professional computer maintenance services at $10.00 a month per computer.
Some possible suggestions:
- Reasonable fees for printing, fax and copying services
- Display local art for sale by consignment (Pirtle’s gets 10% of sale price for example)
- Once LCD screens are installed, local business pay for ad time on LCD rolling screens
- Renting facility for use as an instruction or meeting location
- Simple computer instruction for a nominal fee
- Rental of a laptop by local community members
The highest priority of this project is to provide access to technology for local community members as well as small business support for newly developing local business. The computers must have basic office software, spreadsheets, presentation software, word processing, as well as small business support software, such as basic accounting software. They must also all have Internet access. There may be some flexibility in using open source software to reduce the expense.