The Public Libraries and the Internet report states that public libraries are:
“Providing training to help raise patrons’ skill levels. Seniors, people without Internet access at home, and adults seeking continuing education are the primary audiences of technology training. While a majority of libraries offer training, only 28% offer training on a scheduled basis (either weekly or monthly). That percentage drops to approximately 16% for patrons served by rural libraries, but increases to nearly 64% for patrons served by urban libraries”.
Only 16% of rural libraries…. This report was published in 2004 – I wonder if that number has increased. I can see why the number is low – lack of staff time, lack of equipment, etc. I do know, however, that there are some rural libraries that have found creative ways to overcome those obstacles and provide great training for their communities. Grant funding for equipment, the use of volunteers as trainers, partnerships with schools or other organizations — all of these things can help make technology training a possibility. And, it’s often one person (with a vision and a mission) who jumpstarts a great training program.
Another thing that can really help rural libraries is being able to “borrow” materials that have been created by larger libraries. Please make your training materials available online and let people know they are there! Hennepin Co, for example, is great about sharing their materials — check out their extranet to see some recent items of interest to librarians.