Libraries Are Local Computer Link

This isn’t the first time this column has touched on the issue (or the realty) that if you want access to information, you need to be using the internet. It seems like every day, more of what we need to know or need to do is e-based and that means using a computer.


For those of us who are not computer savvy, there is an easy, low-cost solution. It is available for free and is probably located in your town or village center. I’m talking about the public library. We have 185 of them in Vermont.


The chances are very good that the library near you offers Wi-Fi, access to computers, and even free training on how to use them. Larger libraries will probably have computer classes available; smaller ones usually offer personal guidance.


Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, local libraries may not be open as many days or hours they are used to be, but they are still there and they are busier than ever. In 2009, 60,000 more Vermonters used their libraries than in 2008.  Volunteer hours are up, too, by 28%.


But I’m getting away from my point. We are living in a time when the world is just a mouse motion away. We can access information about Social Security and Medicare Part D, print forms from the IRS (yes, you library even lets you print), get directions, recipes, news and so much more.


One thing that surprises many people is that you can set up an email address. Yahoo, gmail, hotmail and others are available online at no cost. That means you can access them from any computer. Again, your librarian or some other helpful person can show you how.


If you have sight issues, that is no problem either. Most computers come with adaptive technologies to enlarge font size built right in.


So, there really is no reason we can’t all take advantage of what the Information Age has to offer. There is a world of possibilities open to us at our libraries. The same friendly folks who guided us through the card catalog and explained the Dewey Decimal System are there to help us surf the web.


Libraries have been the heart of Vermont’s communities for generations. Now they can even help us Age in Place. After all, it doesn’t happen by accident.

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.