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Harrison Library Bridging the 'Digital Divide'

HARRISON, N.Y. - Technology is ever-changing and Harrison Library Director Galina Chernykh said local libraries need to change along with it to remain effective. The biggest hurdle in doing so, the director said, is keeping all residents up-to-date on digital training.

"We need to spread a word about digital divide in our community," Chernykh said. "I see a lot of mature adults coming to the library with their new Christmas gadgets. They don’t know how to use them."

Chernykh said that, while young people have had less trouble learning new technology, Harrison's older patrons have shown more difficulty with newer gadgets. And while change is inevitable, she said, libraries must work to keep less tech-savvy residents updated.

The library offers various computer-oriented programs to train residents who might be unfamiliar with a certain gadget, such as an electronic reader. But Chernykh said more needs to be done.

"We at the library offer group and individual classes. But, apparently, it’s not enough," Chernykh said. "The digital divide affects different economic groups disproportionately."

With senior citizens being the most active group of library patrons, Chernykh said, learning how to use technology would be key to their library experiences moving forward. She said that older residents must make it a point to learn the most popular gadgets such as iPads or e-readers and there are programs in which they can do that. "We are offering Teen Computer Tutoring. So far we have one instructor, but we need more teen tutors," Chernykh said. "I think the whole community should be involved in bridging digital divide, including the high school and local colleges."

The Harrison Library's teen computer tutor program connects computer-savvy teenagers with older adult library patrons hoping to improve their basic computer skills. The program aims to address the digital divide faced by patrons over 50-years-old. Teen volunteers work one-on-one, helping seniors get familiar with the latest technology. Interested teen volunteers should contact Young Adult Librarian Marilyn Horton at mhorton@wlsmail.org or (914) 835-0324 to learn about becoming a computer volunteer member.

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