WARSAW — For those struggling with technology issues on a computer, phone, tablet, eReader or other electronic device, the Warsaw Community Public Library has a solution. Twice a month the library holds a Tech Tutor program, formerly called Computer Clinic, which gives participants the opportunity to find answers to their technology related questions.
The program has been available at the library for approximately eight years with Michelle Parker leading it for the last three years. Parker took over the program as a way to bump up her part-time hours by getting involved in library programs. She is tech savvy and would help with computer questions around the library when asked. It took a short time for her to realize this is something she could do. “I really like the one-on-one,” she emphasized.
“I’m here to help people with basic, one-on-one type questions,” she explained. These questions can include how to download an eBook, how to get email and how to sort email. Other questions can be how to change a homepage or default browser, how to get rid of cookies and how to save tabs and favorite websites. When it comes to connecting to wireless internet, some want to know the definition of an “unsecured network” and when it is safe to connect to such a network. Other participants want to know about the specifics of library apps such as OverDrive and Libby.
While the computer has laptops that can be used to answer questions, participants are encouraged to bring in their own device since it is easier to learn and remember how to do things on their own specific device. Handheld devices, such as phones and tablets, are some of the more popular that are brought in with questions.
Attendance varies at each of the program times but Parker does not need to do too much to prepare besides setting up the room. She waits to see what types of questions are asked and then does what she can to help, including Googling answers she does not immediately know the answer to. The program lasts for an hour and a half.
If she does not know the answer or cannot immediately find it, Parker has been known to research the problem and ask others for assistance to try to solve whatever technological issue the individual is experiencing. Those who come for help have even been known to teach her a trick or two, such as how to turn something into a JPEG on a Windows computer without having to do a screenshot. However, she does not always know the answers to all of the problems. Sometimes an individual is recommended to take it to a computer store. However, Tech Tutor offers a free option anyone can try first.
One of the most important aspects of the program Parker reminds herself is to let the person to do as much of the process on their own instead of doing it for them. Those coming in for help can become easily frustrated, so it is important to remain patient while assisting them and walking them through a solution to the problem. However, once a solution has been reached, Parker mentioned the individual is incredibly thankful.
The Tech Tutor program helps individuals keep their independence longer. Instead of relying on children or even grandchildren to help them, the community now has another option to try at the library. It can also help them get back into the workforce and become more familiar with recent technology, though Parker recommends the WorkOne classes to better help those re-entering the workforce. It also helps people to realize and utilize the resources around them, like the ability to check out or renew books online during a snowstorm.
Tech Tutor takes place two Wednesdays a month, one at 10 a.m. and one at 4 p.m. Visit www.warsawlibrary.org for future dates.