Over 80% of the County Council's library staff have completed a new e-learning programme to improve their digital skills and digital confidence for the benefit of the county's library customers.
The online teaching programme, funded by Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and Arts Council England, has been introduced to help library staff across the country to: recognise the barriers people face when getting online; equip staff to support people with various disability needs; and strengthen their role as digital champions. Library staff who have not yet completed the programme are expected to do so by over the next few weeks.
For many people in the UK, the local public library is the only place to access free computers. According to Office for National Statistics data more than 4 million households do not have internet access, and a large part of this group state that barriers, including lack of skills and equipment and access costs, prevent them from connecting to the Internet.
Worcestershire's libraries offer more than just free computer and internet access: many regularly run internet taster sessions aimed at both novice and experienced computer users; have drop-in job clubs with help searching for jobs online and filling in application forms; and have digital champion volunteers on hand to help with IT queries.
Kathy Kirk, Worcestershire County Council's Strategic Libraries and Learning Manager said: "Library staff have really welcomed the opportunity to increase their digital skills through the SCL training programme. Helping customers to learn how to find the information they need is a key role of library staff. And as more local and central government information is being shifted online digital skills have become more and more important to help customers navigate".