Library: Tech for kids

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

The Woodstock Library unveiled two new desktop computers and two new tablets in the children’s room that will provide educational programs and fun games.

The desktop computers, called Early Literacy Stations, are for children ages 2-8 and have more than 70 programs on such topics and math, reading science and art.

The computer’s menu is set up like a treasure hunt, where clicking on objects sends them on a new adventure. When the computers were unveiled Thursday April 14, the children were soon showing parents how to use them.

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The two tablets have a program package called Afterschool Edge, and while they have a similar menu system, they are designed for children through the elementary school grades, and are more focused on school subjects. The tablets come with a rugged case that can survive the occasional drops.

The tablets and desktop computers are not connected to the Internet so children cannot venture into sites that are not kid friendly. All the programs are stored on the devices themselves.

The computers and tablets were purchased by Friends of the Library at a cost of $10,278.

Though they are off-the-shelf computers and tablets, they are loaded with customized software developed and supported by AWE Digital Learning Solutions of Chester, PA.

The Board of Trustees has given its blessing to the Friends to remodel the children’s room to accommodate the new computers and tablets with customized workstations. The young adult section will be transformed into an area for teens that is more private, while still in view of staff and will feature a couch and a place to relax.

Friends Vice President Michael Hunt said the work will not disrupt the library since it will be done when it is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The work will be done by volunteers and with donated and deeply discounted materials.

“We’re all very enthusiastic about the project,” Hunt said.

 

Kerr’s tech counsel

Flummoxed by that new laptop or tablet? Trouble with your email? Is your new smartphone acting dumb? Librarian and tech whiz Jessica Kerr will take a look and help you get things working again.

Some people who come in for the Woodstock Library’s Tech Thursdays have never used a computer. Other times, people know how to use their technology, but they are intimidated and need to be reassured.

“Somebody called me the technology therapist,” said Kerr, who takes that title in stride. Librarians in many ways are teachers, said Kerr, so why not bridge the gap and help people embrace technology as it provides more ways to access information.

Started in November, Tech Thursdays involves 30-minute appointments where people can sit with Kerr and get help with their technology. Sometimes, Kerr provides group sessions on such topics as setting up an account with your library card number to access electronic materials.

People have learned about the Thursday sessions through word-of-mouth and through regular email newsletters available by subscribing through the library website at woodstock.org.

“I’ve helped people learn about a new device. I’ve had people not even take it out of the box until they see me,” said Kerr, who helps them overcome their fears. Kerr said she is the opposite when it comes to new things, immediately trying different functions and settings.

While Kerr provides assistance with many everyday tasks on gadgets, she helps people with many library-specific uses. For instance, the library has made online magazine distributor Zinio available for all library patrons. Zinio allows people to download high-quality scanned versions of magazines to their smartphones or tablets for a monthly fee, but the service is free for library patrons. And, unlike electronic books, the Zinio versions of magazines do not expire.

But her assistance doesn’t stop at getting connected to library services. Kerr said she has helped people set up their own websites and has even reviewed people’s resumes.

Once that resume is nice and polished, Kerr points people to websites where they can upload their resume and hopefully land that new job.

Kerr does most sessions herself, but welcomes volunteers who are tech-savvy and patient with beginners.

 

Reaching out to the community

The library is working with the local Meals on Wheels to find elderly homebound people who cannot otherwise make it to the library and provide access through a book delivery service. People will be able to request books and materials that can be delivered to their home. Kerr said the program will start once it has volunteer drivers. Those interested can contact the library.

 

For more information about the library’s programs, visit the website at ulsterpub.staging.wpengine.org, email info@woodstock.org or call (845) 679-2213.