Thursday, August 16, 2007

Netguides Program

Andrea Mercado introduced me to a great new service for older adults provided by the Reading Public Library of Reading, Massachusetts. Netguides matches students who have been trained by the library with patrons who want one-on-one computer tutorials. Topics include basic computing, introduction to the internet, email, online databases, and Microsoft office applications. Sessions are one hour, by appointment. This program is in addition to their regular computer classes.

This is wonderful for people who may lack confidence in learning how to use a computer. Participants can get their questions answered and get special attention, which they would not be able to get in a large computer class. The program uses student volunteers. This gives an intergenerational aspect to the program.

By organizing volunteers this way, one can provide this one-on-one help for patrons, even if you don't have a lot of staff time. For more specific information on how to implement this program, please see "Netguides lessons learned and class changes" by Andrea Mercado from her Library Techtonics blog.

If your library is planning to start such a program, I suggest that one consider recruiting technology savvy older adults to volunteer for such a program, in addition to the student volunteers. Some older adults may feel more comfortable with tutors who are in their own age group.

Note: Photo of Reading Public Library and Librarians via Myspace photos.

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