Library tech help sessions offer both knowledge and comfort for attendees

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Murphy Helwig Library Director Chris Bee (far right) shares tech advice with Marilyn Swanson, Ellen LaFrentz and Helen Hanson at one of the library’s tech help sessions. The library will offer these free, informal sessions the third Tuesday of each month, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Having trouble connecting your tablet to Wi-Fi? Curious about the difference between a megabyte and a gigabyte? Wondering how an app on your cell phone works?

Discover the answers to these and other related questions at Monona’s Murphy Helwig Library, during tech help sessions offered the third Tuesday of each month. Anyone is welcome to these free, informal sessions, which run from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

“It’s just to help people with technology, whether it’s phones or tablets,” said library director Chris Bee. “We wanted to create an opportunity for people to ask questions no matter the device.”

It’s a service area residents appreciate. Many electronic devices now come with few directions, and asking questions at the store where the phone or tablet was purchased can sometimes be intimidating.

“[The stores] have support, but it’s hard to get the support you need,” related Marilyn Swanson, who attended a tech help session at the library last week. “You have to go get the instructions yourself.”

Going to Murphy Helwig Library, she said, is convenient, comfortable and friendly. She and other attendees, just by asking questions and sharing personal stories about technology, can learn from not only Bee, but also one another.

“Other people’s questions help us,” Swanson explained. “I’ve learned a lot from what these gals were asking.”

“Sometimes you just don’t know what questions to ask,” Bee remarked. “If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it.”

Attendees also appreciate that the sessions touch on technology basics.

“We need background to build on,” commented Ellen LaFrentz. “When we started with computers, we were just thrown into it.”

“Our minds are programmed differently,” she said, as opposed to kids who have grown up using cell phones and tablets.

Helen Hanson agreed. When her younger relatives try to explain things, she said they can sometimes go too fast.

“We didn’t learn this in second grade,” she quipped.

Bee said she hopes the sessions will introduce people to new tools and apps that will help make their lives easier. 

Those who attended last week’s session left with a better understanding of how to use navigation features on their cell phones. They also adjusted font sizes and screen brightness on their phones, to make content easier to read. Thinking others might find it helpful, Bee spoke about the messenger app WhatsApp, which she often utilizes to contact her family.

“There are a lot of things that are useful, but people are just not using them,” Bee said. “It’s important to keep embracing technology because it’s a way to communicate.”

Swanson said that’s why she wants to learn more: “We want to be in communication [with family and friends], or we’re left out.”

When it comes to technology, Bee said practicing makes all the difference. Attendees can start at the library and grow from there.

“You can go away with something to practice and learn,” she said. “The more comfortable you are, the more you’ll use it.”

Murphy Helwig Library’s next tech help session will be offered Tuesday, April 18.

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