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November 2013, Volume 5, Issue 10

Continuing Education Alert

Check Your Calendars!!

One Book SD

Picture Book Month

National Young Readers Week
Nov. 11-15

AASL National Conference & Exhibition
Nov. 14-17

International Games Day
Nov. 16

American Education Week
Nov. 18-22

2014 Midwinter Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
January 24-28, 2014

Featured e-Resources of the Month
New Features in our old favorites!

What are we reading?


Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide

Author Jessamyn C. West; Reviewed by Shawn Behrends

"Without a Net" provides an interesting discussion about how and why the digital divide persists, particularly in rural communities, but the book is largely a practical how-to manual. West's many years of experience teaching computer courses to novices make her uniquely able to identify the fears and misapprehensions many people have about digital technologies. Clicking and dragging, for example, is an action many novice computer users don't know is available. We all know what an important feature that is when we begin to work with more than one window on the screen. The pre-installed Solitaire game makes excellent practice for honing screen navigation skills.

Readers will find insightful advice on everything from explaining the components of a computer, what the Internet is, and how to set up a Facebook account. Take email, for example. Do you dread the exchange with a patron that begins: "I need to send an email message to a friend"? It doesn't take long to learn that he/she has never had an email account and you will be starting instruction from square one.

West says email is particularly confusing to novices because there are so many different clients and ways to access email. For the email classes she teaches in the library she says she likes to begin by asking students what their email address is. This makes a good introduction to what email is. Like a phone number, all the parts mean something.

For those who don't yet have email she gives some of the following instructional pointers:

  • Recommend that they choose a webmail program like Gmail or Yahoo if they will be using library computers.
  • Recommend that they choose the same email provider that a friend uses so they know someone they can tap for assistance.
  • Have a form that new email users can fill out and take home. It should include username, password, URL of the email provider, and their security questions. This way someone else can assist if they have trouble accessing their account.

In the email chapter, West also lays out practical explanations you can share with patrons when walking them through the sign-up process. When choosing a password, for example, encourage the users to create one that is memorable to them (avoiding dictionary words, of course) regardless of whether the program says the password is weak. Finally, West ends her email classes with a brief discussion about email fraud:

"No one who wins the lottery gets notified by email. Have you played the lottery lately? No? Then you did not win the lottery."

"Without a Net" is a worthwhile read for anyone who deals with users of public access computers at the library. Readers will learn something new about tech training-guaranteed. Also check out West's companion website: for handouts and presentations you can use. This book is available from the State Library.



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