Photo by Andrew Wigdor / News Editor
The Smyrna Public Library recently received a technology grant for almost $9,000 from the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which will allow the library to purchase the technology needed to create courses that will teach Smyrna residents computer and job preparation skills, as well as allowing them access to helpful resources such as these 4+ resume templates to help them increase their chances in finding employment.
“We decided to apply for (the grant) because we do not have a good space to do computer classes, and we are asked on a pretty much daily basis for help with resumes, help with setting up email, help using Facebook, help with all sorts of basic computer skills,” said Heather McDowell, the branch librarian at the Smyrna Public Library. “We applied for the technology grant so we can get laptops.”
The library will purchase 10 new laptops and 10 Microsoft Office licenses, and will host the newly funded computer classes in the fall of 2017.
It will also partner with the Nashville Career Center in preparation for the classes.
“They are going to do some of our classes for us for free,” McDowell said. “They do resume-building workshops, and they also do mock interviews and things like that for job prep. So, they’ll be using that space as well. We’ll coordinate volunteers with the library system, and we’re hoping to do Microsoft Office, Word, Excel and Powerpoint.”
According to McDowell, the new technology and courses will help them to better fulfill the community’s needs in ways they haven’t been able to before.
“We have to send (Smyrna residents) down to Murfreesboro, and, depending on the person, they may not have transportation,” McDowell said. “We don’t have as much time to sit down and work with them as we’d like. So, we want to do these computer classes to help educate them.”
She stated that the library consistently attempts to keep up with the technological needs of the community. Five new computers were added to the library last year, and the library staff has slowly begun to add classes focused on resume-building. The technology grant will allow the Smyrna Public Library to provide more hands-on training.
“We have a lot of people come in just to use the computers,” McDowell said. “Some people don’t have them in their homes, especially in Smyrna … We know technology is something of the future that people need to be fluent in to succeed in the job market.”
Library volunteers and representatives from the Nashville Career Center will begin teaching the courses in the fall, starting with basic computer courses. According to McDowell, the library will be searching for new volunteers in the coming months to assist in the process.
“We are probably going to reach out to MTSU to see if they have any computer students who want to come (teach the courses) if they have to do internships or things of that nature, or if they just want to practice helping others learn basic computer skills,” McDowell said.
The grant, distributed through the TSLA, was first presented to the Smyrna Public Library by Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
“Libraries aren’t just about books anymore,” Hargett said in a state press release. “They are technology hubs, especially in underserved communities. We know providing updated laptops and training will ensure every Tennessean has the resources and skills they need to work on school projects, apply for jobs or conduct the same business many of us do online every day. Access is something many of us take for granted.”
The TSLA will award more than $337,000 in technology training grants to 45 libraries across the state of Tennessee in 2017.
“We were very excited about the amount we received,” McDowell said. “There are a few other libraries that received grants in our area for varying amounts, but we were on the larger end.”
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