The Book Drop: Youth interns bridge digital divide at Creston library

Web Lead

Emma Feltham describes her recent experience working with an elderly patron at the library: “Over the past few weeks, I have shown her how to check and delete emails, answer FaceTime calls, edit her contacts, check the weather, use Safari and download apps. She is now significantly more comfortable using her iPad and can more easily connect with her family and friends who live out of town.”

Emma, along with Jessa Morris, is employed at the library as a Community Access Program youth intern. The two positions, which are funded by grants from Industry Canada, are intended to help bridge the digital divide between those who have access to technology and those who do not. Providing physical access to computers is just one component of the library’s approaches to alleviating the effects of this divide. The other is providing support on how to use new technology, and that’s where Emma and Jessa come in.

“I enjoy helping people with technology,” says Emma. “Whether they need help with their iPad, sending an email, or just have general technology questions, I am happy to help out. This job has given me a chance to help others in a way that might seem small, but impacts them greatly. Knowing that I have made even the smallest difference for someone is extremely rewarding.”

Jessa adds that she loves “working with people. It’s really rewarding being able to help them with their technological challenges.”

An unintended but important consequence of these positions is how they have helped bring people together. As Jessa relates, “My best experience so far has been helping a photographer transfer his slide photographs into digital. It was really great to talk to him about his photography and hear about his stories and experiences.”

Emma describes helping a patron upload Christmas photos to Facebook for her grandchildren in Vancouver, “She was so happy. She couldn’t stop thanking me!”

In addition to being available most days to help library patrons on a drop-in basis, Emma and Jessa have been engaged in a variety of other tasks on behalf of the library, including developing a new library website and promotional materials, presenting a series of public workshops, reaching out to local businesses and seniors centres, updating the apps on the library iPads, and more.

The position has “helped me to develop my design portfolio, and gain experience using design programs (like Adobe Creative Suite) in a professional setting,” says Jessa. “The samples of work that I have as a result of the job will be invaluable for me in the future.”

In 18 year-old Emma, the work has kindled a different interest. “I have learned that I love teaching people new things. I plan to explore a career in teaching.”

We are extremely privileged to have these two young people working with us at the library. Please feel free to bring your devices or your questions in, or just drop by to say hello.

Before signing off, I’d like to remind you to mark your calendars for Feb. 28 when East Shore author Ellen Burt will be joining us. Ellen is the third author of the year to visit the library, following Luanne Armstrong and Valerie Comer, and we are expecting a wonderful evening of stories, discussion and good fellowship. Please join us.

Aaron Francis is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public Library.