Bridging the Digital Divide

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‘Bridging the Digital Divide’

By: Kristin Bennett

Director of Library Services

                Today it is more important than ever to have a basic working knowledge of computers. More and more things that a decade ago were done in person or on paper are now done online. You can watch your TV and movies online, listen to your music online, pay your bills online, look up addresses and hours of operation online, pay your taxes online, apply for jobs online. You can even earn a college degree online. Not knowing how to use computers or navigate the internet will hurt a person’s job prospects, lessen their avenues of communication with friends and family, restrict their access to information, and make it difficult to interact in a society that is more than ever working on the assumption that everybody has access and the skills to get online. This is what is known as the ‘digital divide’ defined by the dictionary as ‘the socioeconomic and other disparities between those people who have opportunities and skills enabling them to benefit from digital resources, especially the internet, and those who do not have these opportunities or skills.’

According to a Pew research study from 2015, 89% of adults use the internet. However, in rural communities this number drops to only 75%. Numbers are also below average for older adults with only 65% of adults 65 years of age or older using the internet. The same study found that 63% of new internet users say that they need help learning to use the computer. For many years now the Henry County Library has been offering free monthly classes on basic computer use, Microsoft Office programs, internet skills, e-mail, and genealogy online. We feel that it is important to bridge the digital divide and help all members of the community learn online skills in order to gain greater access to resources and information.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming more proficient with computers or the internet here is a description of the offered classes. Dates and times for these classes can be found on the main page of our web-sites in the events section:

Computer Basics-

Get to know the computer in the free Computer Basics class taught at both the Clinton and Windsor library locations. In this class you will learn about the different parts of the computer. You will work with the mouse and the keyboard and learn basic steps to starting and shutting down the computer, opening and closing icons, and how to use the start menu. You will also learn about programs on the computer.

Microsoft Office Basics-

Learn how to use the tools of Microsoft Office: Word, Powerpoint, Access, and Excel in this free class brought to you by the Henry County Library.

Internet Basics-

Learn how to get online, do searches, and browse web-sites in this free class taught by library staff.

E-mail Basics-

Learn how to set-up an email account and how to send and receive emails from friends and family in this free course taught by library staff.

Genealogy on the Internet-

Have you ever wondered where your family came from or if you are descended from anybody famous? Learn how to start your genealogy search with online tools in the Henry County Library's free Genealogy online class.

Our goal is to make sure that nobody is left behind in this time of quick changing technological advances. Please call the library at 660-885-2612 or come by in person (at least 24 hours before the date of the class) to sign up for any of these classes. They are each held at both branches once a month.