Love My Library, By Norma Johnson-MacGregor
Program provides training in computer, Internet basics for whole community
This summer, we have computer trainers at each of our branches thanks to our partnership with the Community Access Program (or C@P).
C@P began in 1995 as a national initiative to ensure all Canadians had access to the Internet. This has remained the central mission of C@P even as the Internet has become more widely available. Many people can’t access this vital communications network due to cost, lack of access to high speed, or insufficient computer skills in an ever-changing technology landscape.
To learn more about our computer trainers and the C@P program’s role in the library, I interviewed Bill Morgan, who is our staff liaison with the C@P program:
Q. What services do C@P employees provide?
Morgan: The C@P Youth Intern Program is a federally-funded program and established C@P sites (such as library branches) are eligible to apply for employment grants to hire technology trainers. Candidates must be 15 to 30-years-old and currently enrolled in an educational program (i.e. university, community college, high school). A major portion of the trainer’s time is dedicated to helping members of the community learn to use technology. One-on-one classes are based on request and include assistance using various tablets, eReaders, computer basics, email, the Internet, etc.
The interns also run a variety of programs that interest youth, adults and seniors, and they help tourists of all ages use resident technology (such as connecting to wireless networks). Examples of programs at the Truro branch are: 3D computer modeling and 3D printing; Skype; Apple; epublishing; Lego Robotics; Google Earth and photo editing.
Q. How often are C@P employees available?
Morgan: The C@P interns are available during July and August and occasionally during late fall and winter. It depends on when funding is available.
Q. How long has the library had C@P employees?
Morgan: Our first intern worked part-time during the fall of 2002. We’ve hired C@P interns at the Truro library each summer since then, as well as during a few of the winters. When funding allows, interns are placed in our other branches too.
Q. Is the C@P program a permanent or temporary service?
Morgan: This is a seasonal service and it’s contingent upon funding from the federal and provincial governments. We must apply each year.
Q. Do you think the library will ever have permanent computer trainers?
Morgan: Ideally, funding for the Youth Internship Program would be available for trainers year-round at all branches. Annually, the library considers budgeting to hire ongoing staff as trainers, but to date the library’s core funding hasn’t been able to cover the additional cost.
Q. What direction do you see the C@P program going in the future?
Morgan: I’d like to see enough funding made available to hire youth interns year-round at all library branches. Changes in technology and the need to help people learn about them are here to stay.
C@P trainers are currently available at all of our branches. For more information, please contact your local branch.
Norma Johnson-MacGregor is the Electronic Services Librarian for the Colchester-East Hants Public Library. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.