What Kiama took away from digital hub

Trainer Arthur McConnachie with library digital hub user Sheena Gledhill. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Trainer Arthur McConnachie with library digital hub user Sheena Gledhill. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The Kiama Library's time as a "digital hub" is drawing to a close but lessons learnt will continue well into the future, according to library manager Michelle Hudson.

In 2012, the federal government provided $13.6 million to establish digital hubs in 40 communities across Australia.

"Our job over the two years was to engage the community and show the potential of the NBN," Ms Hudson said.

During its time as a digital hub, the library trained more than 800 people in one-to-one sessions.

"Training on tablet devices was very popular," Ms Hudson said.

Over the two years, the library held 240 group training sessions, facilitated the latest video-conferencing technology for a variety of programs including youth mental health, and even offered NBN-enabled virtual tours of the National Museum's Landmarks gallery that allowed children to explore using a 360-degree camera located on top of the museum robot.

The training provided by NBN trainer Arthur McConnachie, which targeted elderly residents at risk of "digital exclusion", was popular.

Despite the hub's funding coming to an end, Mr McConnachie will continue in a similar role in the library for at least another six months thanks to the Tech Savvy Seniors program, funded by Telstra and the NSW government.

Mr McConnachie said that two years after the arrival of the NBN in Kiama, he believed many elderly people were feeling more comfortable about using technology as "a vehicle for getting jobs done", such as internet banking.

"For a lot of people it was about overcoming fears about the business side of the internet and putting measures in place to make them feel comfortable."

Ms Hudson said staff gained additional skills and would continue to offer extra assistance with most services absorbed into the library's program.


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