Tech help and internet available at Library

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

Between online schooling, virtual doctor’s appointments, Zoom meetings, and the many other ways that our lives have moved online since Covid-19, it has become more apparent than ever that there is still a very clear “digital divide.”

This is the gap between those who have access to, and familiarity with, technology, and those who do not. In our community, this is in part due to economics but also due to the sometimes limited availability of reliable high speed internet throughout the County. The municipality is conducting a survey at haveyoursay.thecounty.ca/ asking about connection to the internet. We will have printed copies at all branches of the library if you need them.

For years the library has helped to bridge this divide. We see access to technology and, crucially, instruction on the use of technology, as a core part of our work. Although we are not offering programs in person, the library’s tech team David, Aaron, and Michele have been holding workshops online since March. This will continue for the rest of the year. One of our patrons explains, “I took online courses offered by PEC library for the months of April and May 2020. They did so much more than ‘fill in time.’ I’m now using Hoopla and Kanopy to watch programs for free on my TV. I’m editing and managing my photos. I’m much better informed about social media and what to avoid. My data is backed up to the Cloud and am a lot more confident about data security. Your courses came along at the ‘perfect’ time.”

This fall’s planned topics include using the library’s catalogue, web browsers, internet safety and Google Apps. If there’s something else you’d like to learn, call Aaron at (613) 476-4130. One-on-one help is still available, though it looks a little different as we are no longer able to work closely next to each other. We can help by phone or online through screen sharing applications and will work with you through one hour sessions (you can book as many as you need!).

The virtual Zoom meeting room that we launched in the fall has also been popular as groups who typically book rooms in the library transitioned online. You may request a room at peclibrary.org, or call Dave at (613) 476-5962. He’ll help you with any training that you might need. One of the benefits of Zoom is that if someone in your group doesn’t have access to the internet, they can phone into the meeting.

Another service that continues to be popular is “Borrow the Internet”. It is a mobile WiFi hotspot to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet to the internet—anytime, anywhere. Request it at any branch of the library. We would like to assess how our tech services are used in the community. If we have helped you, please take a moment to email anash@peclibrary.org, or call (613) 476-4130 with any feedback. We’re interested in how we can improve as well as successes you may have had with the help of library staff.

-Liz Zylstra