Basic digital skills are required in all parts of our lives and most especially with the “Digital by Default” agenda, which requires the public to interact with government agencies digitally. These skills are also required to play an active part in society and to keep informed with current affairs. In this time of misinformation and “fake news”, public library campaigns such as “Facts Matter” are vital. Having the ability to buy things online can be a money and time saver for everyone and keeping in touch with family members can keep an isolated older person mentally healthy.
Case Study: “Go Digital Newcastle”
There has been an increase in the number of job seekers using their local public library due to Welfare Reform changes and the introduction of Universal Credit, which requires all claimants to have an email address, access and maintain their account online and look for jobs online. There has also been an increase in the provision of other services digitally, such as booking a doctor’s appointment or asking for a repeat prescription. For those people who are not confident using technology, all of these tasks can require the help and support of trained library staff.
Further Case Studies:
“I.T. & ME” drop-in sessions take place in Stirling Council Libraries to help people solve basic IT problems and learn new digital skills. Participants learn at their own pace in a relaxed atmosphere during sessions run by knowledgeable I.T. & ME volunteers, who encourage them to develop their skills. These might include getting online, signing up to email and social media accounts or making the most of library online resources, including reading great new titles online, listening to audiobooks, and looking through your favourite magazines and daily newspaper all free of charge.
“Work I.T.” sessions take place in Stirling Council Libraries to help people who are looking for work to learn and develop new digital skills. Work I.T. provides a short introduction to allow participants to access their Universal Credit account, carry out an online job search or create a C.V. Sessions are one-to-one and free of charge.
The management of long-term conditions as people are living longer is becoming increasingly important in the context of stretched NHS budgets. Library staff have a role to play in helping their users to find reliable health information.
Case Studies: “Health Information Pathways” is a collaborative approach across public libraries, the NHS and the charity and voluntary sector, to support public library staff to develop their role in self-management, health literacy and shared decision-making. Examples include a partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to provide cancer support services in libraries, and projects such as “Shelf Help”, a SLIC-funded project in Scottish secondary schools that has been adopted by some public libraries. In England, the Reading Agency has provided a booklist of 35 titles for teenagers that are available in public libraries and provide support and advice on a variety of mental and physical health conditions.