Campaign promotes digital literacy

BY JOE POTENTE
jpotente@kenoshanews.com
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Sheldon Tolles would like to use the Internet to indulge in his interests of paleontology and history research and, he said, “the good old favorite, shopping.”

But his computer experience is nil, and he wants to bone up on his skills before investing in a laptop or desktop unit at his home.

That desire brought Tolles to a basic Internet skills course at Southwest Library on Thursday, and it places him square in the target group for EveryoneOn — a national digital literacy campaign in which Kenosha Public libraries are participating.

“I want a taste of this before I go home and start messing around,” Tolles said during Thursday’s class. “I want some basics. I don’t want to be sitting there with no help.”

Going online is something many people — especially the younger set — take for granted these days, but, as the EveryoneOn campaign notes, one in five Americans still do not use the Internet.

It’s a figure that surprised Michelle Eisenhauer, the Kenosha Public Library system’s head of administrative services.

“With the way all of our access to information is going digital, it’s important to have more people connected to the Internet,” Eisenhauer said. “Kids, for example, so many tasks they have to do with school work are related to things that are on the Internet now, research.”

The EveryoneOn campaign is a three-year venture launched recently in a collaboration between the Ad Council, the American Library Association, the Institute of Museums and Library Services and other organizations. One of the partners, Connect2Compete, is a nonprofit organization that offers low-cost computers and Internet service to people who qualify.

Locally, Eisenhauer said the library system is filling much of its role in EveryoneOn by offering computer and Wi-Fi access in its branches, as well as free computer training courses such as the session Tolles and two others attended Thursday.

The courses, which are offered regularly, cover topics from basic computer skills to specific applications and online specialities including genealogy research.

Leading Thursday’s session, reference librarian Patricia Bajabir told the group of what it can gain by gaining digital literacy — everything from seeking medical and car repair advice to researching vacation destinations and family histories.

“Once you have some basic skills of how you can navigate on the Internet,” Bajabir said, “it opens up a whole new world for you.”

Upcoming library computer classes

All classes are free and held at Southwest Library, 7979 38th Ave. Registration is required for some courses. Call 564-6130 or visit a library branch for more information.--- Computers for beginners (PC basics), 1:30 to 3 p.m. April 16 and 10 to 11:30 a.m. May 2.-- Microsoft Excel, 1:30 to 3 p.m. April 17 and 10 to 11:30 a.m. May 7.-- Powerpoint, 7 to 8:30 p.m. April 23.--Introduction to Microsoft Word, 1:30 to 3 p.m. May 1.--Internet basics, 1 to 3:30 p.m. May 6.For more information about Connect2Compete, a nonprofit that offers low-cost computers and Internet service to qualifying individuals, visit www.connect2compete.org. More information about the EveryoneOn campaign is available at www.everyoneon.org.

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