Technology provides an ocean of information for people, from internet resources to computer skills and job opportunities.

However, some people feel like they’re treading water, watching others easily swim past. The Asotin County Library is now offering a life ring to help people navigate the seas of technology.

“All these things are part of our everyday life, but people are feeling like we’re swimming in information and asking, ‘How do we learn it?’ ” said Erin Kolb, adult services librarian for the Asotin County Library.

To help people get up to speed, the library employs two “digital navigators,” Georgia Jordan and Gregory Raye. Kolb defined the job title as “helping people with 21st century digital literacy skills.” Examples include helping people learn online banking, communicating with apps and FaceTime, getting photos off a phone or explaining how the mysterious “cloud” works.

Appointments can be made to meet with Jordan, or there are scheduled drop-in times at Walla Walla Community College with Raye. “We really want to go to the people and meet them where they’re at and where they are,” Kolb said.

For people who want to learn on their own and build on the skills they already have developed, the library can help with that, too. It offers a variety of self-guided tutorials and online programs, including Northstar, a service that helps people build skills. The library will have a class as an introduction to the program this month (see schedule of classes below).

Others might want help in a specific area, which is why the library offers classes on Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, which also will be held this month. Kolb said those classes could help someone in their job or while using everyday technology.

The library also is assisting people with internet access. The digital navigators can help people apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounted internet to the homes of those who are eligible.

Kolb said the library is trying to get the word out about the services at the library with promotional billboards and advertising.

“We really want to emphasize, ‘Hey, we’re here, we can help,’ ” Kolb said.

Microsoft classes

  • Microsoft Word: 8-10 a.m. June 13-17, Community Room at the downtown library, 417 Sycamore St., Clarkston. Learn how to create fliers and graphics, complete a mail merge and print labels.
  • Microsoft Excel: 8-10 a.m. June 21-24 and 27, Community Room at the downtown library, 417 Sycamore St., Clarkston. Learn how to create spreadsheets, a budget and work with functions and formulas.

Laptops will be provided; having some basic computer skills will be helpful. Participants also can bring their own laptops if Word or Excel 2016 is installed.

Sign-up is available at asotincountylibrary.org.

Digital navigators

  • Make an appointment for help at the downtown library branch, 417 Sycamore St., Clarkston, at bit.ly/3lHt3bS.
  • Drop-in help is available at from 1-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Walla Walla Community College Library, 1470 Bridge St., Clarkston

Digital navigators are library staff members who are available to help with computer, internet and technology skills including basic computer skills, eBooks and digital audiobooks, email, internet, social media, smartphones and tablets. They can also help with finding affordable broadband and devices and applying for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers discounts for internet service for eligible households.

Northstar Digital Literacy

  • Set up an account at asotincountylibrary.org/northstar/.
  • Introduction to Northstar Digital Literacy 5:30 p.m. June 14, Community Room at downtown library, 417 Sycamore St., Clarkston.

This program builds computer skills by allowing participants to earn certificates and badges. A free set of assessments includes self-guided modules in basic computer skills, internet basics, using email, Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, social media and creative job searches. The library’s digital navigator team also can help create accounts.

Other resources

These can be self-directed or done with help from the digital navigator team:

  • DigitalLearn: Short videos on computer and internet basics.
  • GCF LearnFree: Free online tutorials to learn new software or refresh skills. Lessons include computer basics, internet searching, Microsoft Office, social media and setting up email accounts.
  • LinkedIn Learning: Online courses to learn skills from industry experts. Paid for by the Washington State Library; participants must be Asotin County residents with a library card.
  • Techboomers: Short tutorials for novices that covers basic Microsoft Word, online security, online shopping, travel booking and social media.
  • TechConnect Washington: Helps people with chat, phone or email technology problems.
  • Tech-Talk: Improve technology and digital skills with articles, videos and tips on topics that include Microsoft Office, graphics and video creation, communication tips and social media.

If there is a topic of interest or an online resource people want to explore and learn together, they may contact Erin Kolb at (509) 758-5454 or ekolb@aclib.org.

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