In July, a customer visited the Okanagan Regional Library’s (ORL) branch in Armstrong to use a computer terminal to conduct research on her family’s history in preparation for a reunion. The library was very busy that day and staff weren’t able to provide the one-on-one support she needed to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of Google.
“Fortunately, a preteen sitting at the adjacent computer station noticed her frustration and offered to assist. They spent 20 minutes together going over how to enter search terms, click on links, and go back to previous pages”, shared Armstrong’s Community Librarian Julie White. “In the end, the lady found the information she was looking for and left happy.”
The incident reinforced what White had been observing at the library in recent years—how important digital literacy has become for managing our daily lives, and how learning to use technology can be intimidating for new users.
To address this, the ORL will be conducting free personalized technology training at its libraries throughout this fall. Anyone can sign up to join a 45-minute session to spend with a library staff member trained in the use of various devices and computer programs; classes are capped at three participants so each learner will have the opportunity for one-on-one assistance.
“We often get asked to help with things like uploading or downloading pictures, post a classified ad, or reserve airline tickets or hotels”, explained White. “But these kinds of tasks can be very confusing without knowledge of how to use a computer or Wifi device, or understanding the terminology.”
She adds, “Technology can definitely enhance one’s life with learning some basic proficiency. My favourite example is being able to Skype the grandkids.”
ORL staff have booked personalized tech training sessions at library branches from Golden down to Osoyoos beginning Sept. 1 until Oct. 30. Call or visit your local library branch to find out about training sessions in your area and to register.
Additionally, reference staff at the downtown Kelowna library, Vernon library and Salmon Arm library are available to help with device and technology questions during all open hours.