Librarians with class: What do you teach?

Many libraries are working hard to increase the level of digital literacy in their communities. Whether it's structured and scheduled classes or one-to-one assistance, library instruction helps people take advantage of all the opportunities that technology can provide.

Nathan Carr, IT Supervisor at the Newton Public Library (KS), asked fellow library technology trainers in the Facebook Technology Training and Libraries group, "What classes are you planning on teaching this coming year?" And he shared his own creative list of monthly classes for 2013:

January "Fix Yourself: How-to Repair a Slooooow Computer"

February "Socialize Yourself Online: Fun Yet Safe"

March "Sell Yourself : Cover Letters, Resumes and Beyond"

April "Don’t Fool Yourself: Defensive Computing"

May "Find Yourself: Maps, GPS & Geocache"

June "Search Your World: Research Online and at Your Library"

July "Broadcast Yourself: Podcasting , Videocasting & Screencasting"

August "Document Yourself: Office Suite Comparisons and Uses"

September "Audiophile Yourself - Digital Music: Gadgets, Downloading and Streaming"

October "Scare Yourself: Prevent Internet Security Horrors"

November "Google Yourself: Email, Calendars, Online Storage etc."

December "Save Yourself: Free Software & Money Saving Sites"

What classes are offered at your library? I like Nathan's list and I think it's great that he plans so far ahead. Throughout the year as he comes across great sites, he can keep track of them for the different classes he's going to be teaching. I also think it's great that the Facebook group for library technology trainers exists so that people can share ideas with one another (and handouts and PowerPoints and more).

What resources have been helpful to you when planning digital literacy training for your library? Have you found certain books and websites especially useful? Do you share training resources with other libraries?

Increasing digital literacy in the community is addressed in the benchmarks developed by the Edge Initiative.


Our community library in a small town/bedroom community in Puerto Rico is one of the very few bilingual libraries on the island. The community we serve is very diverse...from the wealthy to the poor.  We have Spanish classes that mostly benefit the suburban population, English classes for a mixed population, yoga, and lots of children's activites run by volunteers that bring in the youngest kids from both the upper income suburban neighborhoods and the "barrio"

Where we make the most impact is in teaching people how to use computers.  Our library is housed in a municipal government building, so in return we help people access government services online, make copies, and use our 26 public use commputers.  On the low end of the IT scale, we have free digital literacy classes for "marginalized" populations under a program for youth (ages 14 to 30) sponssored by the Organization of American States and Microsoft. We also have our own ongoing classes for adults in the use of common Microsoft programs and the Internet, and these are very popular with seniors.  And we've just started a CompTIA Academy partnership to offer much higher tech classes and exams for professional certification.  The latter courses are fee base and run after regular library hours and on Saturday --and we hope to develop this activity into steady income for the library to help pay for all of the above!.

The rest of our courses are mostly remedial academics, college board prep courses and special activities for public school kids short-changed by our poor public schools.. We have to maintain open hours for these kids to do their homework as many don't have computers in their homes.  The high school is closed for renovation (a looong process), and the middle schools are being used with a staggered hour schedule.  The kids go to school only 4 hours a day, middle in the morning and high in the afternoon. Most week days we have kids in every corner!

Would love to have the courses on the list, but for now we're plenty busy with the basics!  We have become much more of a community and learning center than a library!

Hi Anne,

Thank you so much for sharing your story! It sounds like your library plays a really vital role in your community. The parternerships you've created also sound like they have been key in helping you accomplish so much.

It's great to hear from you here!


Brenda, thanks for sharing Nathan's list. We are definitely interested in additional ideas and resources!!!