The Granisle Public Library has received a federal grant to help its senior patrons with technology.
Last year, the Granisle Public Library had applied for the New Horizons for Seniors Program grant funding to provide patrons with weekly workshops to learn how to access the internet, tech devices, etc. Just last week, the library learned that their grant application had been accepted and the library will soon be able to provide some new programs for the seniors, according to Library Director Lisa Rees.
“The harsh reality of the pandemic has been that it has been really tough on seniors especially in remote communities like Granisle where they don’t have access to BC Service centre and they have to drive a 100 kilometres while the province is telling them to stay home. And then they want to apply to things like BC Recovery Benefit but they don’t have internet, a lot of them don’t even have satellite services,” said Rees.
The library decided to apply for this grant, an idea that piggy-backed off the tech grant that the library received earlier last year. The library did a huge tech haul through this grant funding and got a 3D printer, iPads and eReaders for patrons, Alexa Show for seniors, etc. The library 3D-printed several mask straps and door pulls that were then distributed among the community members.
With this new grant, the library will be able to focus on helping seniors understand and get familiarized with technology. Rees said, that the municipality approached the library and offered the new community space above the arena for conducting these workshops.
The idea would be to have three to six laptops and iPads where the library staff or volunteers would help seniors with things like teaching online banking, how to set up social media accounts and how to setup calls with family members virtually, when they can’t travel physically to meet with them.
The library will be starting with two sittings, socially distanced, and is also hoping to eventually include a third sitting for later in the day for kids in the after-school program.
The library is aiming to create an internet cafe-like vibe for learning and also would be looking to set up conversations with folks like the local paramedic so he can tell what he does, and go a step ahead and setup virtual workshops that would be helpful for the community.
“Maybe introduce one of the credit unions to do a virtual call through zoom and they can talk to people about finances, perhaps a lawyer could talk to people about writing a will. We are just trying to help the community especially during the pandemic times. I am hoping once they get more familiar with these devices, maybe some of them will want to get their own to stay connected,” said Rees.
Rees has been trying to get patrons familiar with technology over the past several months. The tech grant that allowed the library to buy a 3D printer also helped it procure some virtual reality glasses. Rees mentioned that before Christmas, Tyree Parkin, the local paramedic, took the virtual reality glasses from the library for his home visits over the holidays to break up the monotony and help seniors try the glasses.
“They couldn’t come to me, they were stuck at home and this way they were able to go anywhere they wanted to, go to the place they were born in, visit the pyramids, experience something new, from right within the four walls of their house. It gave them a new experience and also something exciting to talk about with others and their family over phone calls. It went over really well,” she said.
The library is hoping to start offering workshops with the new grant through small, socially distanced groups by early spring.
Later in Summer, the library will also be putting up the history of Granisle’s digitization project on its website with the ability to keep adding photos and information to it in the future.