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Blog // Connect Michigan

Michigan Libraries —Anchor Institutions for Digital Learning

By Wil Payton

When Houghton Lake residents need help with a new eReader, tablet, or other communication device, assistance filling out online forms or conducting a job search, help in creating a resume, or free wireless access, the library has been the go-to-place for Internet access and technology skills training.

A key component for improving digital literacy is the demonstration of the value of using technology to support health, finances, educational advancement, and occupational training. The Houghton Lake Public Library has taken the forefront in meeting these criteria.

In addition to Wi-Fi access, the library offers community residents a diverse program with classes that address basic computer and Internet skills enhancement and specialized skills development.

“They are very grateful that the sessions offered at our library are free of charge and include a booklet of all the materials that they can take home to practice what we covered in class,” said Kim Frazho, technology coordinator/trainer, Houghton Lake Public Library. “At a time when someone has just lost their job, free training in any subject that teaches skills employers want is a blessing.”  

Examples of the targeted technology skills training offered in the past include the following:

  • Computer Use for CNAs – Certified Nursing Assistants received continuing education credit for attending this session on Microsoft Word.  Creating checklists and posters, lists and brochures for use in the medical setting, to give to patients, or to post in a clinic or doctor’s office.
  • Reentering the Workforce (without computer skills) – This session was held for displaced DURA manufacturing workers from Gladwin after their factory closed.  Participants learned how to search and post to Michigan Talent Bank and other job sites, how to create a resume, fill out online forms, create basic documents such as cover letters, reference lists, and use many of the functions in Microsoft Word. 
  • Basic Computer (for job seekers) – These sessions were conducted at the request of the local Michigan Works (MiWorks) office to give their clients a basic understanding of computers. Participants signed up and received credit from MiWorks for attending the sessions.

“A library is in a perfect position to do something to really make someone’s life easier at a time when just about everything else is going against them,” said Frazho. “Our students are always extremely grateful for these classes.”

The Roscommon Area District Library is a neighbor library in the county that provides similar classes and Internet access.

“They love how we teach them how to use their new iPad, Kindle, or other device as many times as they need it,” said Lisa Sutton, director, Roscommon Area District Library. “One 84 year old man comes in every day to do his computer work and he often says, ‘I love the staff here and I tell all my friends to come to the library because they will help you.’”

Be sure to follow Connect Michigan on Facebook and Twitter for more articles on how technology impacts your life.


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