Library adds first digital co-ordinator

Cyber and technology woes be gone.

Cyber and technology woes be gone.

Those who feel confused and left behind by the constantly changing digital world have a new expert to consult at the Red Deer Public Library.

Briana Ehnes is the library’s first digital literacy co-ordinator. She is in the process of developing computer education and training sessions for the public, as well as library staff.

“A primary role of mine is to work with people and technology so right now I’m doing a lot of one-on-one tech help sessions,” Ehnes, 26, said. “People can bring in devices and I’ll show them tricks for using them. I’ll show them how to use our library database, how to navigate the Internet, look for information on Google, that sort of thing.”

She is available on an appointment basis now but said she encourages anyone to stop by her office if they have questions. She hopes to have a public technology class or drop-in session down the road for those curious about getting the upper hand on new devices.

She is also teaching staff how to help library users with eReaders, tablets, laptops and smartphones, as the library has been receiving questions related to these products on a regular basis lately, she said.

Increased digital literacy efforts are happening in libraries across the country, Ehnes said. Edmonton Public Library has a team dedicated to digital literacy, largely focused on its new “makerspace,” an open public area with a variety of the latest tech-savvy tools. It was unveiled in February.

Makerspaces are one of the hottest and newest trends for the 21st century North American library. Many, like Edmonton’s, feature 3D printers, greenscreens, self-publishing machines, media conversion stations (allowing you to convert VHS tapes to DVDs and cassette tapes to CDs), gaming consoles and various computers with specialized software. It is still a new concept in Canada, with the only other makerspaces in Vancouver and Toronto.

Part of Ehnes’s role will be working on future plans for an in-library makerspace in Red Deer.

Ehnes, who grew up in Red Deer, began her new full-time position in February. It was made possible thanks in part to a government of Alberta Community Spirit Program donation grant. The grant has since been discontinued and the local library was one of the last organizations to receive one.

Ehnes obtained her master’s degree in library sciences at the University of Alberta in April 2013 and worked for three summers during her undergrad at the Red Deer Public Library as the summer reading club co-ordinator.

Library CEO Christina Wilson said they are thrilled to have Ehnes back and that with technology advancing so quickly, the free educational services and Ehnes as an extra, onsite resource are a necessity in the library and will be a benefit to the public.

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