After the second part of my Intro to Email class today, a patron explained that, before attending this week’s sessions, she had no idea that the library offered free computer classes. Then she said, “This is what keeps the community going–the library.” That statement stuck with me all afternoon–one more affirmation of the value of my job and libraries in general, and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had several job-seeking patrons in my computer classes, because, they’ve said, there are very few positions out there that don’t rely on computer skills. This week’s session focused on setting up and using an email account, something virtually all online applications require these days. I wasn’t a bit surprised that out of the 10 people who attended, 8 of them had never opened an email account.
When my supervisor asked me two years ago to help develop and teach computer classes, I jumped at the opportunity. Having come from an education background, I knew that teaching the classes would be something at which I could be successful. The same patron commented on how well I was able to take information about computers and present it in a way that they–older adults–could understand it. She said that she’s tried learning from her nephews who have degrees in computer science and information technology, but they just couldn’t help her understand. As first a teacher, and now a librarian, that’s one of the cornerstones of my responsibilities–finding ways to present information in a way that patrons can understand and use it successfully.
From computer basics to getting patrons started on Facebook, we’ve offered computer classes on a number of different topics, but it’s always those beginning level sessions that are the most popular. We’ve recently started advertising our classes in the local newspaper, and it’s been surprising how much that has increased interest. Word of mouth has helped a lot too. Attendees, ranging in ages from 16 to 102, are always eager to learn something new, and have pretty much consistently been patient with me if they’ve felt the pressure of information overload. Many of them even come back for more. It’s inspiring to know that the library is becoming more and more the number one place for learning in the community–keeping it going.