“I’m an older woman, and can’t seem to get the computer. I still think in terms of writing longhand or typing.”
“My grandkids live in Newfoundland, and the only way to see their pictures and keep in touch is through Facebook.”
“We’re forced to use computers whether we want to or not. You really have to have basic computer skills now.”
These quotes are from library patrons who have taken advantage of the library’s weekly drop-in computer help program, User Friendly, have received help from one of our two student interns tasked with assisting patrons with technology problems or just stopped by the library needing a bit of help from our computer-savvy staff.
Getting Canadians hooked up to the Internet has been a federal priority for years. The Connecting Canadians program, for instance, aims to provide access to high-speed Internet to 98 per cent of Canadian homes by the end of 2015. While the digital divide is decreasing in terms of access to Internet, however, the “use divide” — the actual ability of people to use the internet — will continue to impact millions of Canadians.
Whether it is accessing government forms, preparing a resume or keeping in touch with family and friends, the public library has an important role to play in providing support for those Canadians who may have access to the Internet, but are not yet comfortable using technology in their daily lives.
Local opera buff and published author Julie Ewashen is one patron who has been working with intern Rivannah Beddall on a number of projects. “I have a new portable printer and had lots of issues with it, which Rivannah has helped with. She has a nice, friendly manner. She doesn’t make you feel like a dodo even if you are one!”
Carrie Lucas, an accomplished artist and longtime library volunteer, has also had the opportunity to take advantage of our programs. “I had an issue that took us about four days to get straightened out. At home I would have been panicky, but the library staff kept following up and working at it. All the staff are really good, really welcoming.”
Adds Julie, “My kids are willing to help me, but they work full-time so I hate always asking. It’s really nice being able to go to the library for help.”
Besides the library, the Creston campus of the College of the Rockies offers a wide range of beginner computer courses throughout the year (call 250-428-5332 for more information). The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy also periodically runs a computer basics program (call 250-435-0388 for information).
On a different note, February is Reading Month for schools. Kids: Don’t forget to check the library for the latest series, bestsellers, and information books! As always, if there are any books you would love to see in the library, let us know!
And last but not least, thank you to all of the organizers and families who came out to Family Literacy Day at the library and the Children’s Winter Festival at the Lower Kootenay Band gym. We are very fortunate to live in a community where organizations and individuals work together to put on family-friendly events to break up the long winter and show our families how important they are to us. Thank you to all of you!
Aaron Francis is the Chief Librarian at Creston Valley Public Library. He is currently reading Shikasta by Doris Lessing.