Today in my teenage angst, I helped four different senior citizens learn to use their e-readers.
Do you know of this phenomenon? Young, technologically oriented thirty somethings, are buying their older, less than tech savvy, generationally distinct parents e-readers and tablets for Christmas, Birthdays and any celebration that requires more than a pair of socks or a tie. And this is great. The demand for electronic alternatives to everything, is huge. The problem though, is that these kids, buying these gifts, are giving them to their parents and then saying, "Have fun!"; leaving them to their own (less than accessible) devices.
Luckily, there is the library, who, along with their service 'Library-To-Go' (the borrowing of audio and e-books online), offers training in using your e-reader along with our Library-To-Go software. Which is where I come in. Upon entering my new position at the library as a reference technician, I taught myself how to use several formats of "e-reading."
I've recently come to appreciate my place in the techno-journey of my generation, through my work at the reference desk. Having the other reference staff wax-nostalgic about card catalogues and hanging files of reference material, makes me nauseous. The speed with which I can access information because I've grown up in the information age is the best. I really, really, really love it. I blocked off a whole afternoon to lay down my understanding of how to use the various e-readers. It took me fifteen minutes to learn the process on three different devices. And with that, I became a self-proclaimed resident expert. I now accept appointments, drop-ins, over the phone (though this is always hard), etc. And I've come to see each person as an exciting new obstacle in my day at the library.
One of best things about the people that come into the library for this purpose, is that they legitimately can't figure this out on their own. So this relationship works really well both ways. I love helping people accomplish something they couldn't do by themselves, especially when I'm helping them accomplish something I know a lot about or am really good at. In turn, these people look at me as their sort of e-reader savior. Ego-boost? Yes.
I continually find that inter-generational relationships are hard. This is probably the most evident (in our culture at least) with Senior Citizens. Like maybe we think their life-experience is useful, or their baking is tops, or they're super cute, but we don't want them to drive; and forget about using their computers. That's probably just beyond them. But our ability to learn never dies, right? And life is super cyclical. So all the while they're teaching us, we can be looking for ways to teach them too. The best part about this whole deal is that these opportunities are literally falling into my lap. Well, the e-readers are. The seniors are falling into the chair next to my desk, looking tired from trying to figure this whole system out. And they want to learn. They want to learn so bad. And all I have to do is garner a little patience, slow down the speed at which I would normally perform this process, and watch their excitement grow as they realize all the things they now can do.