Public libraries today face the challenge of educating and bridging the knowledge gaps of those patrons in their communities who have limited experience with information technology, and few related skills. Connecting people with information, fostering digital skills in the community, and enabling participation in online environments have become core functions of the library. These functions, which are lacking in other public and private spaces, are increasingly relied upon by library users to socialise, develop themselves and conduct their business.
A lack of basic IT skills and familiarities can result in frustration, depression and feelings of helplessness with respect to the use of computers. At Cambridge Library, the Digital Services Team (two library technicians and me) first provided small group classes teaching library clients basic computer skills. On review it became apparent that the students attending had such diverse needs that a group teaching program was no longer the most effective option. To provide a better service to library clients, we developed a specialised IT teaching program in which we tailor one on one classes to each individual's needs.
My paper will outline why these tailored IT teaching classes can be the best option for community libraries, the strategies our team used to research, structure and implement our teaching program, and how the team manages and resources the program on a day-to-day basis. The paper will provide a model, or blueprint for the design and implementation of such a program in other public libraries.
A perfect fit! Tailoring IT teaching to your community [slides]