HEARNE, TX — In the present day, it’s crucial to know how to use a computer for everyday life. However, even the most basic of computer skills can be a bit tricky to navigate when starting from scratch, and working things out all by oneself.
That's why computer classes, like those being offered in Hearne, can really help out. At Hearne’s Smith-Welch Memorial Library, Kaitlyn Gonzalez, the library director, interacts with members of the community every day. Sometimes, those interactions include questions about different computer functions.
"A lot of the programs that we’ve been doing are just responsive programming," said Gonzalez. "So basically, we’ve just had lots of questions from people who come in and use the computers – just basic stuff like emails, printing documents, things like that.”
Gonzalez recently had the idea to start hosting computer classes on a weekly basis. She asked library customers if they would be interested in taking classes, and she said the community showed great interest. Now, the classes have been going on for over three weeks.
"Most of it regards the internet and emails," Gonzalez said. "Just because, of course, during [the COVID-19 pandemic], I think that it's popped up so much more. So, like, when signing up for the COVID vaccine, you have to have an email account."
Students of the course have wanted to improve their skills in order to apply for new driver’s licenses, schedule their doctor appointments online, and apply for jobs. Gonzalez serves as the instructor and has designed the course curriculum. She’s found, that once she offers people pointers, sometimes her students proceed to take the initiative with their devices at home without needing prompting.
“We want people to be functional in society and feel empowered, so they’re not scared to ask questions," she stated. "And, they’re not scared to try it out themselves.”
One of Gonzalez’s students is also her colleague, library clerk Evelyn Johns, had several areas of knowledge she wanted to advance on, such as sending emails and using word processing programs.
So far, about ten people attend each course, and library staff such as Johns reported receiving positive feedback from the community.
"We have a couple that calls every week now to sign up for the class," Johns said. "We’re adding on to the class each week, so it’s very important and helpful,” Gonzalez shared. Additionally, she noted how she continues to poll library customers about what their learning needs are, and adjusts her curriculum accordingly.
Classes are free to attend and take place every Wednesday, from 3 P.M. to 4 P.M. The Smith-Welch Memorial Library is located inside the Jim Florence community building on W 5th Street in downtown Hearne.