By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Libraries are no longer simply a collections of books,” said county Library Director Meredith Wagner, who was the keynote speaker at Monday's weekly chamber luncheon at the Elks Club.
“Today, we offer myriad services all centered around our core mission: free access to ideas and information for all people.”
About 50 attendees
Wagner, the former assistant director who took over as library chief after Ray Serebrin retired in September, addressed about 50 chamber members.
She was accompanied by Daniel Heaton, the library's systems manager.
“I believe individual empowerment comes from access to information, and libraries provide that access,” Wagner said.
“We don't want anyone in our community falling behind or becoming marginalized because they don't know how to use the technologies that are necessary to navigate our new digital society.”
The library is sponsoring a series of instructional seminars from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday during which staff will be available to help patrons with their computer technology issues.
Programs generally take place for the first hour, while drop-in technical assistance is available after 4 p.m.
Specific topics include email basics, how to download e-books and how to load apps onto a smartphone or tablet.
Also included are training on Microsoft Office, a ubiquitous software application platform, in a partnership program called the Microsoft IT Academy.
Wagner said the academy provides free access to a range of online courses and learning resources for people who seek certification in the use of those applications.
While the classes are free, the certification requires a fee and is administered through Microsoft.
“With this program, we can help bridge the skills gap by providing curriculum training and the validation of skills that college and career-bound students need to be successful,” Wagner said, adding that more than half of today's jobs require some degree of technology skills.
This will increase to 77 percent in the next decade, she said.
The training is made possible through a partnership with Redmond-based Microsoft and the Washington State Library system, Wagner said.
“With this partnership, we have the ability to serve Jefferson County in an entirely new way by both enhancing learning and preparing our citizens to move into 21st-century job opportunities,” she said.
For more information, visit www.jclibrary.info or phone 360-385-6544.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.