Friday, August 13, 2010

ReToolbox Program offers computer basics

The Coeur d’Alene Public Library and North Idaho College are part of a partnership to provide area residents the basic computer skills they may need to look for work on the Internet, create cover letters and resumes, fill out applications online or maybe just to send and receive e-mails with photos of their grandchildren.

The first free ‘help session’ for the ReToolbox program to be offered in the library’s Community Room, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 6:30-8 p.m., will focus on basic computer operations – using the mouse and keyboard, turning the computer on and off, opening windows, creating files, etc. The same session will be offered again on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2-3:30 p.m.

“The goal is not to make participants ‘computer experts’ but to help them be comfortable with the devices, especially if they have never used a computer before,” said Ruth Pratt, Executive Director of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation.

“We heard from the library staff that many patrons are coming to the library to use the Internet computers because they need to apply for jobs or to re-enter the job market,” Pratt said. “For whatever reasons, many of these patrons have few or no computer skills and are very frustrated. Their need to learn was exceeding the amount of time the staff can spend with individual patrons.”

The ReToolbox program will use a laptop lab made possible through a major grant from the Women’s Gift Alliance with funding also provided by the Idaho Community Foundation and Waste Management of Idaho.

Instruction will be provided by trained community volunteers and through NIC’s Adult Basic Education program.

Up to 19 people can participate in each help session. People can attend as many as they want and repeat sessions if they feel the need – all for free.

Additional sessions will include:

u Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2-3:30 p.m.: Going online, setting up and using e-mail. Session will be repeated Wednesday, Sept. 22, 6:30-8 p.m.

u Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2-3:30 p.m.: Internet searches; job applications. Session repeats, Thursday, Sept. 30, 6:30-8 p.m.

u Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2-3:30 p.m.: Resumes, cover letters, professional presentations. Session repeats, Thursday, Oct. 6, 6:30-8 p.m.

The four basic sessions will be repeated throughout the year. And as the need arises, special programs will be scheduled.

“The beauty of the laptop lab is that we can also offer small sessions using the library’s meeting rooms as participants let us know what their needs are,” Pratt said.

She noted that using the laptop lab avoids taking the library’s other Internet computers out of service when the daily demand for them is very high. The library staff is also looking at programs that can make use of the laptops when they are not needed for the ReToolbox project.

For more information or to register for a ReTool Box Help Session, call 208/769-2380. Participants who need ADA accommodations to participate in library programs are asked to contact the library staff prior to activities by calling 208/769-2315. More news and information about the library is available online at

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