Internet internsFrom late fall of 2011 to spring of 2012, the Vermont State Colleges placed student interns in public libraries to provide one-on-one assistance every week for patrons learning to use the Internet. Combining this service with new computer equipment purchased through e-Vermont, these libraries are creating a true gateway to the online world.

What are some of the things Vermonters want to learn? Here are some answers:

I’ve been working with seniors . . . for one-hour sessions twice per week. Mostly working on basic internet literacy including: using search engines to find news, photographs, recipes, local stores, etc; opening email accounts; uploading pictures to the web; navigating online shopping and forms; exploring social media; selling/buying on ebay; navigating their personal computers and understanding/personalizing their settings

There’s a really sweet man who came in every week for probably a month. He described himself as a ‘kid in a candy shop’ when it came to learning about computers. . . We started by opening his own email account, which took a whole session, and sent him over the moon. He was so excited about it, I think he signed in and out about twenty times that day. Over and over, open up a browser, find, sign into the account, go into the inbox. Over and over. As if the whole process was a super fun game.

People have told us that they are thankful for the increased number of computers and the intern [to help with one-on-one assistance using computers] we received through e-Vermont … help setting up email accounts and Facebook pages, which have been used to stay in touch with distant relatives and family members in the military. We have also been able to help many learn how to share digital photos with friends and family.

One elderly patron who has been trying to learn basic computer skills for the past two years has been using the e-Vermont computers to: (1) purchase “missing” pieces of her china dinnerware and (2) keep track of an online site with postings set up as a memorial to her deceased husband.

There’s a woman who comes to the Morristown library who’s . . . been coming consistently since October when I started there, the only person at any of the libraries who’s been so regular. . . She is quite elderly, she lives in a nursing home in town, and one of the reasons I think she’s great is because every time she comes in, she starts by talking to me about how important it is to stay active and interested in the world. She says the people who live with her don’t do anything and it drives her crazy and she tells me about all the groups and clubs and classes she’s a part of. It’s really awesome that even though the internet is really foreign to her, and she doesn’t necessarily ‘like’ it, she makes a point of coming almost every week because she knows it’s something that could be beneficial to her and in any case, it keeps her active and learning.


Read more at the Internet Interns program page.