Tech tutoring at the library
When Dewey ‘Decimal’, book organizer extraordinaire, assigned the 600s to the category of technology around 1876, he could not have had much of an inkling what the word would come to mean. Indeed, today’s computer technology queries and qualms touch every aspect of private and academic learning, a library’s main purpose, after all.
Bowen Island’s chief librarian Tina Nielsen speaks to this evolution. “The need for technology training was identified by the Bowen Island Literacy Committee about a year ago,” Nielsen says. She elaborates how, “The ‘digital divide’ is more than the gap between those with and those without access to computers and the Internet. It also describes the gap between those knowledgeable to use and benefit from such tools.”
Therefore, thanks to funding from the Committee, the Community Access Program Youth Internship, Friends of the Bowen Island Library and a donation from the Bowen Island Community Foundation, the library purchased the required hands-on-learning laptops and sought to hire a tech tutor at no expense to the end-user. So, in October, Nielsen hit the ‘Enter’ key and tech tutor James Barth appeared in real life. He acknowledges people’s wide levels of computer savvy, and consequently complements his computer skills with equal parts of patience and passion.
“I spend time with each person, up to an hour. I want them to come out of the experience with a sense of comfort,” Barth says of the rapport he creates with emerging cyberspace experts.
While seniors comprise the basis of his student population, all are welcome to partake. Short snappers may be answered via email – if one is already seated on that bandwagon – while more complicated skills can be mastered through booking a free, in-person appointment.
Regardless, one of the most popular high-tech topics is close to any library’s heart: fiction reading. Yes, though a good old-fashioned hardcover may feel the most comfortable, Barth says the pages have definitely turned regarding the relationship of leisure reading and technology. Ebooks allow readers, especially travellers and commuters, to carry enough reading material in one manageable laptop to last a lifetime, he explains. (Or at least enough for a winter’s lounging in southern climes. But note: sticky finger and spilled beverage precautions apply exponentially more to keyboards than paper.)
“We hope to extend James’ internship at Bowen Library until the summer if funding sources are available,” Nielsen says, adding that group classes and additional trainers are also on the cyber plate. Interested or confounded tech wannabes may email email@example.com, phone 604.947.9788 or drop by the library for a brochure which clearly outlines the many opportunities awaiting exploration in today’s seemingly frenetic e-world.