Info Tech Is Our Job, Redux
I wrote about this issue earlier this year, and I'm happy to see it back on savvy LIS bloggers' radar, this time in the form of Andrea Mercado's charmingly titled Geek Out, Don't Freak Out classes. She's just taught the first class in a proposed series, this one on digital cameras. As her recap shows, these courses do not need to be a big-budget extravaganza to be effective and serve a need to one's community:
I went over the basic anatomy of a camera, and encouraged people to ask questions and fiddle with their cameras as we went along, which they did. One attendee came to the class because she's shopping for a camera (she didn't have one with her, so she got to play with the library camera), so the hands-on playtime was helpful not only in picking one out, but knowing what to look for when she goes to Best Buy to play with the display models.(Emphases mine.)
We didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked, but this class was helpful to everyone mostly because they just wanted to know their way around their camera. After we played with settings, pushed all sorts of buttons, opened and shut little flap doors, and flipped through manuals, the attendees really had the sense that not matter what digital camera you have, you really can just turn it on, take a picture, and look a your picture or download it. The features were no longer intimidating, they became interesting toys to experiment with.
Here is a great example of a public librarian with an interest and some level of expertise in a given area observing a need in her community, and filling that need. Anyone can do this! You don't have to hire expensive instructors, you don't have to break the bank buying lots of technology (note that in this case, the students brought their own cameras, or tried out the cameras belonging to the library), and you don't even have to have a classroom full of people to make a course like this worthwhile. Way to lead by example, Andrea!