Howard: Rogers Park Library Computer Classes Bring Tech to the Masses

Howard Stop IconBy Maria Baglien
The Red Line Project

Posted: Monday, March 7 2011

While technology may come naturally to many young people, sometimes older people need additional help with learning basic computing skills -- and local libraries have stepped in to help. 

That is why the Rogers Park Branch is one of the Chicago Public Libraries offering free computer classes. The final class out of the four class series, "Email Basics," was on March 2.

Rogers Park community members take advantage of the free
computer classes offered at their local library. (Photo by Maria Baglien)

Safaa Sabri, 28, who has attended previous computer classes said that his 60-year-old father, said his dad does not know how to send an e-mail.

“It takes him forever,” said Sabri.

Sabri was found before the class began, using his laptop to study in the upstairs section of the library. According to Sabri, the class was helpful when he attended it; however, he thinks that the library should also offer more advanced classes.

“I would be more attracted to the classes if they were teaching people how to use Photoshop and other software,” Sabri said, “I don’t know where I can get educated about those topics for free.”

The classes teach basic computer skills. For this specific class, participants were taught the basics of e-mail using gmail accounts. Brandon Batchelor, a “CyberNavigator,” who refused to comment, taught the class.

Safaa Sabri uses his computer at the
Rogers Park Library. (Photo by Maria Baglien)

Tiffani Palmer, 29, said that she wished she would have known about the computer classes because they would have been helpful for her father. “I had to help him get acclimated,” she said, “he is an entrepreneur so once I taught him how to do things like create spreadsheets, it really helped him with his business.”

In order to take the class, participants must sign up ahead of time. The other three lessons include Basic Mouse & Keyboarding Skills, Internet Basics and Internet Search Basics.

Alejandro Gante, 43, a computer class participant, said “adolescents have these programs in school, we don’t, so these free workshops are beneficial for older adults.”

According to "Education Week," an online publication for educators, in 1996, two-thirds of publics schools had Internet access and by 2003, every public school had Internet access. 

By this time, many students were required to take computer classes and teachers were increasing their use of technology within the classroom as well, using electronic grading systems and smart boards.

Chicago Public Libraries That Currently Offer Computer Courses:

View Chicago Public Libraries with Computer Classes in a larger map

The Rogers Park Women’s Club opened Rogers Park Branch in 1894. The library was located on Clark Street at the time and members of the Roger’s Park Women’s Club voluntarily ran the library until 1923, when it was moved to West Greenleaf Avenue. That building then burned down on Jan. 30, 1951 and the current one, located at 7057 N. Clark St., was opened on June 8, 1999.

In addition to computer courses, the library is also currently offering “Story Time,” for toddlers, and “Spring Into Stories,” for kids, “Money Smart” workshops for teenagers, and book clubs for adults.

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