Every Tuesday, the Free Library Central branch operates its e-gadget help desk where employees with special technological knowledge and training, provide assistance for those having difficulties with their electronic devices.
With the library offering more e-books, Internet access and other electronic services, librarians have had numerous requests for assistance navigating through the wave of modern technology. The e-gadget help desk was developed to help those needing help.
“Librarians and library staff were getting so many questions about downloading e-books and how to get e-books from our website and how to use e-readers and all the different devises that are out there right now,” said Ann Blasberg, the Free Library of Philadelphia mobile and digital resource supervisor.
It was this demand for information about technology that motivated the library to offer assistance.
“We knew that during the holidays that people would probably be getting new devices and so we decided to start a holiday help desk,” Blasberg said. “It was so popular that we continued it.”
Library users with questions or issues with their electronic devices take them to the central branch at 19th and Vine streets where they go to the e-gadget help desk. No appointments or library cards are required.
There, a gadget guru will meet with the library user and help them resolve their issue.
“We have a table set up in the lobby and they can come up if they just want to ask questions,” Blasberg said. “We have a couple of devices that they can try out and we also have a laptop their so we can show them our website and how they can get our e-books and other resources.”
Users are encouraged to bring in their own devices if they need help learning how to use them. Mobile phones, tablets and e-readers are common devices which users typically bring for help.
“We’ll work with them to get them started on the device and show them how to work it,” Blasberg said.
Are there any devices that they simply will not assist with?
“They can bring any device in and we’ll try to help them figure it out,” Blasberg said. “People have brought in tablets and mobile devices that are new to us but we’ll help them figure it out.”
The library has truly changed with the times but, according to Adam Feldman, librarian, such innovation is nothing new to librarians.
“I can tell you that librarians have been gadget gurus since there have been gadgets,” Feldman said.
He added the library has been getting more public attention since it began helping patrons use the technology necessary to access library resources.
“The library in Philadelphia has always been at the cutting edge of technology and technological change, we’re one of the first city websites,” Feldman said. “Immediately after mobile phones started getting smarter we were immediately begun thinking of how to make our website look better on a mobile phone.”
From there Feldman said the Free Library of Philadelphia began thinking of how to make sure that the libraries resources were accessible on mobile phones.”
Persons interested can visit the e-gadget help desk at 1901 Vine street, Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
Folk are encouraged to bring library cards and 4-digit PIN number and the gadget for which they seek assistance.
There are also hotspots throughout the city where persons can use library computers and connect to the Internet. To find a hotspot, call the free library at: (215) 686-5322.