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Library Buzz for Feb. 26 Edition

Technology. When you hear that word, what do you feel? Excited? Terrified?

Not everyone in our community has ready access to technology. Still others may have access, but lack the skills to use it effectively. At the library, we see a lot of people who feel left behind the technology curve – and they come to us for help.

You might ask, why do librarians help people with computers and iPhones? Well, it’s a means to an end. The Internet forever changed the way we access and give information. Working on a family tree? Use Ancestry.com. Doing research for a school paper? Use online databases. Applying for a job? Online applications only accepted. Connecting with distant family? If you don’t use Facebook, you’re out of the loop. Health records? Check your online account. Wondering if that article is fake news? Check PolitiFact.com. And on it goes.

As librarians, we know that if you don’t know how to use technology tools, then you won’t be able to get to the information you need. That’s always been the case – reading, for example, is a skill that allows you to interact with a great deal of information. If you can’t read, then you will have a difficult time doing the basic tasks that living in the United States requires. Likewise, digital illiteracy puts people at a tremendous disadvantage. And at the library, we’re all about leveling the playing field.

The thing is, it doesn’t take long to fall behind. The technology of today goes out of date tomorrow, and staying current requires a curious mind and diligent effort if you’re not in a position that requires you to use it every day. When people fall too far behind, they struggle to learn on their own and benefit from a teacher who can patiently put them on the right path.

At the libraries, we’re want to better meet the technology education needs of our community. We do our best to help with basic technology questions on the spot, or we’ll find a time when someone can sit down with you and walk you through a more complicated question. But we’re limited in how much we can do on our own.

So we’re putting out a call for volunteers, from teenagers to seniors, to help teach basic technology skills to others. You can teach a class (retired teachers, take note!) or tutor one-on-one. The skills we teach are basic – like how to search the Internet, how to send an email, or how to take a photo on a smartphone. You don’t need to be a tech whiz, just willing to learn and share what you know with others. You can specify the topics you’re comfortable teaching, as well as anything you definitely don’t want to teach. If you’d like to learn more about being a technology teacher at any Botetourt County Libraries branch, please contact Julie Phillips at jphillips@botetourtva.gov or 928-2901. We’d love to hear from you!

-Julie Phillips

Botetourt County Libraries

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