Last year, the library conducted a survey of adults over 55 about their knowledge and interest in services and programs. Can you guess what was one of the top areas of interest? If you said technology, you were right. With the help of the Senior Advisory board, we created an inter-generational program called Tech Talk: Exploring 21st Century technologies with teens. Two of the Senior Advisory board members specifically mentioned that seniors are on fixed incomes and wanted to learn about and how to use new technologies. Often they hesitate in purchasing new technologies unless they know if it will make their life easier or more enjoyable. This program pairs up teens with older adults to explore and learn about new technology.
Members of the Teen Advisory Board volunteered to be trained and then share their knowledge about a variety of technologies. The two hour training involved exploring learning styles, how to communicate technology concepts and included a demonstration between an older adult and the trainer. The training was an eye opener for not only the teens but also the trainer (me!).
I was not aware of the different types of cell phones that are currently available, the teens straightened me out about them. The older adult in the training asked “what is an iPod or an MP3 player and is there any difference?” The teens explained that the difference was the software used to play audio files. The older adult said “Oh, they are similar to a Walkman.” The teens then asked ” What’s a Walkman?” I replied, ” Oh, they played audio cassettes.” To which the teens replied, “What’s an audio cassette?”
The program was attended by four older adults. These adults were interested in how to use a digital camera, what is an iPod, and how to download audio books. The adults not only learned about the technology for which they were originally interested, but also about additional technologies as they talked to their teens.
The older adults expressed their appreciation and were generally impressed with the teens’ knowledge and ability to show them how to use the various technologies. One adult even brought in her own camera to be
shown how to use it. Another person had been wanting to download audio books from the library’s website but didn’t understand how or what equipment she would need. She was very proud at the end of the program
and was headed off to the store to buy an MP3 player that would allow her to play audio books.
The survey and the Tech Talk program was my leadership challenge project for the Urban Libraries Council’s Executive Leadership Institute. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate and grow as a leader and hopefully in a small way impact library service to older adults. There have been two other staff members who have participated in this program previously. Their leadership challenge project continues in
the form of Library Take-Out.