The Ventura County Recorder's Office is hoping to become more user-friendly with the help of a hands-on computer video program installed at the Government Center this week.
Using pictures, written text, music and verbal instructions, the program is designed to help steer citizens through the maze of legal documents handled by the recorder's office.
However, the machines do not offer actual records. The recorder's office contains documents ranging from birth and death announcements to marriage licenses to homestead declarations.
"It's like adding staff who are always ready and able to answer customers' questions," said Gary Paul, the project manager in the recorder's office.
Paul also hopes that the four computer kiosks, officially called Interactive Recorder Information Stations, will save time for citizens and for employees who repeatedly answer the same questions.
The kiosks and software, which cost $62,500, were paid for by a special fund established by the state Legislature to modernize recorders' offices throughout the state, Paul said.
The county program was designed by Ventura County resident John F. Kling, who founded his company three years ago and is moving his office this month to Newbury Park.
Although it's too early to tell how much the kiosks will help save citizens time, they have drawn attention from curious passersby.
In the first two days after they were installed, about 100 people used each of the three kiosks now sitting in the lobby of the County Government Center. A fourth kiosk will be installed later inside the recorder's office.
Not everyone who saw the machines Thursday was an instant fan. Nui Young, 41, who works for a title company and comes to the office daily, said she thought the money could be better spent elsewhere.
"To me, they should use that money to hire more people to help the public," she said.