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A FREE Infopeople Workshop for Public Libraries

Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Is part of your job providing assistance to public library customers who use public access computers? If so, you probably get asked over and over again to explain why the computer "won't let them" open a file, or access a web site, or save/print their work the way they'd like to. This workshop is designed to help non-technical public service staff understand and resolve the most common problems faced while helping the public.

You will learn how to:

  • Perform basic computer troubleshooting steps,
  • Explain important computer concepts - such as file types, file attachments, printing, types of software, security, and privacy - to library customers,
  • Change basic computer settings to accommodate users with special needs (low vision, poor motor control),
  • Use online Help to answer application-specific questions, and
  • Communicate problems to tech support using appropriate terminology.

This workshop will enable you to reduce frustration and provide better service to library customers. It will also improve your ability to enlist the aid of technical staff when needed.

Workshop Description: Through a pre-workshop assignment, hands-on exercises, and group discussion, students will learn basic computer skills and will practice communicating their knowledge to both library customers and tech support personnel. Cheat sheets will be provided to help with basic settings and workarounds to the most common customer problems. There will be ample opportunity to share creative solutions with your peers.

Pre-workshop assignment: Before coming to the class, students will be required to complete a questionnaire about how their library's public access computers are set up. The questionnaire will be emailed to students one month prior to the workshop.

Preliminary Course Outline:

  • Tips for Customizing and Using Applications
    • Word menus and toolbars
    • Using My Computer to change what users see
    • Understanding file types
  • Issues with Quicktime, RealPlayer, iTunes, graphics programs
    • Printing
  • Understanding Public Access Computers
    • Layers of protection offered by software
    • What do all those software programs do
    • Vocabulary and your public access computer
  • Troubleshooting
    • Basic troubleshooting steps
    • How to talk with Tech Support
    • Capturing error messages
    • Privacy issues
  • Getting Help and Communicating with Users
    • Using Help inside the application (Word, Excel)
    • Online help resources
    • How to communicate effectively with library customers

Workshop Instructor: Cheryl Gould