By Cody Decker
The only remaining library in Camden, NJ is helping people get tech-savvy.
The Riletta L. Cream Ferry Avenue Branch is one of eight branches in the Camden County Library System. The library offers many ways for library users to get a better technological experience.
One way to accomplish that is to offer classes for people to come and learn about computers and applications in the system. The Camden library offers classes in email for Beginners, Microsoft Word, Creating Resumes Using Templates, and Internet Searching and Camden County Library System databases. Jerome Szpila, the branch manager, is happy with the turnout of these classes, which are taught by workers at the branch.
“These seem to meet the needs of our customers,” Szpila said via email.
According to Szpila, other programs are offered throughout the year, which are lead by experts and college professors. The topics have included Google Drive, Preventing Identity Theft, and Setting up your Own YouTube Channel. Szpila says those classes satisfy consumers needs.
Another way people can access the library and its bevy of resources is through E-content. Szpila informed that there are five services through the Camden County Library System that allow access to the electronic books and resources. Hoopla offers many areas including music, videos, television, and audio books. Overdrive holds e-books and audio books. Zinio is the database to over 80 magazines. Freading has over 50,000 e-books. Lastly, Artistworks administers video lessons on music, art, and vocal that users can go through at their own pace.
“E-books have had a significant impact on library use,” Szpila said. “Use of E-content materials has increased by 25 percent in the past year for Camden County Library customers.”
These two main ideas of providing electronic copies of materials and being able to educate people on how to use electronics in ways that can help them in many avenues have sparked a new way of looking at the experience a person can have at a library. Yet, Szpila says the older method of walking into a library, picking out books, and taking them out is still popular with their customers.
“Customers in our area generally prefer to access the library by coming in, rather than by e-books,” Szpila said. “Our branch does provide a comfortable, safe environment for area families and the role of library as a ‘place’ plays an important role in this urban neighborhood.”
Despite how the customers use the library and what platform they use, Szpila understands that times are continuing to change and it will impact the success of his library now and in the future.
“This trend has been with us for at least 20 years and will continue into the foreseeable future,” Szpila said. This is especially true in a low-income area, such as Camden, where many are unable to afford their own PCs and are reliant on the library.”
The branch manager also understands the benefits that customers of his branch can have if they decide to take their library experience to the Internet.
“Increasing use of technology by customers means that customers are increasingly more comfortable and willing to use on-line sources for their information needs and are much less reliant on using book sources,” Szpila said. “This has meant that libraries and spending much less on book reference material and allocating much less space in the library for this material and spending more for PCs and their upkeep.”
Computer classes are held once a month at the branch and people can sign up online at the Camden County Library System website at camdencountylibary.org. E-books are available to the customers of the library through the same website under the Services tab.