At the library: Books? Check. Technology? Double-check

From introductory computer training, Internet for beginners, and how to use e-mail, just to name a few, the 50-plus age group can keep up with the latest in technology at Pierce County Libraries for free.

Mary Getchell, marketing and communications director for Pierce County Library System, said their branches offer a wide variety of courses to help individuals in that age group with computer skills.

“From turning on the computer to computer basics, getting to know the parts of the computer, windows function, keyboard function, even how to use the mouse,” she said, adding that in 2016, the libraries provided 639 computer classes for more than 2,200 attendees.

With classes ranging from iPad Basics for 50+, Tech Help, Web Safety and Intro to Word, to Burst your Media Bubble, which helps folks understand how social media and news feeds work, there are a number of free resources for seniors.

The Web Safety classes provide tips to guard against identity theft and online scams.

Getchell said that class is particularly helpful to seniors, giving them useful information and strategies on what to look for from a safety and security standpoint when doing an online transaction involving money. “It’s about the basics of using the Internet and how to do so safely,” she said.

When a relative or a friend gives a gift of an iPad or a Kindle, it can leave the 50-plus crowd scratching their head as to what to do with it. The iPad basics class guides them.

Other classes help folks with their resume and instructs them how to navigate those waters that are unfamiliar and scary, said Getchell. June classes are listed on the Pierce County Library website at

Judy Levy and her husband, Warren, use the library services at the branch located in Sumner nearly every day.

Levy said that adult services librarian Laura Farrow has been particularly helpful to the couple.

“I learned from a class how to get on a genealogy page and started doing a family tree,” she said.

When the website had some changes that were confusing, Levy contacted Farrow, who immediately helped her get the problem solved.

The Levys don’t use a smart phone or own a computer. To help them with the decision whether or not to buy a computer, Farrow helped the couple prepare a spreadsheet of their needs, after which they decided they didn’t need to buy a computer, but instead would take advantage of all the services the library offered.

“I have a good camera and an attachment to load them to the computer, so my husband and I go every day and use the computer at the library. We have e-mail and a Facebook account and other services,” she said.

Judy Levy enters a number of contests online and recently won a $100 gift certificate to the couple’s favorite restaurant on Maui in Hawaii.

When a class on how to use Microsoft word was offered, Judy signed right up and learned how to format her annual Christmas letter on the spot.

“If something goes wrong or needs an update, the library does all of that. Any time we have a problem, they come and know all the clicks to solve it,” she said.

Pierce County Library also offers a delivery program for homebound people. The service is extremely popular for folks who can’t drive to the library.

“This is an absolute gift, and important for folks,” said Getchell. “We take books, movies and other materials to 27 adult care facilities on a monthly basis.”

As of May, the library system was taking books, movies and other materials to 89 people who are homebound. A family member or friend of the homebound person, a volunteer or a Pierce County Library staff member picks up the materials from one of the branches and delivers them.

Assistant branch supervisor Miguel Colon is a wonderful resource for all library patrons at the Sumner branch.

Colon, who is bilingual, is always on hand to help seniors, and he provides support for the Hispanic population.

“We have a strong Hispanic population in Sumner, and they bring lots of issues and questions. If I can’t answer them, I can find where they can get the answers,” he said.

Colon is very impressed with Judy and Warren Levy and how they use the library services to their full potential.

“Judy makes the most of her library card. She recognizes the value in it, and Pierce County libraries are located in strategic locations so people can utilize the library,” said Colon.


Joan Cronk, who wrote this article, is a freelance writer from Puyallup.

Miguel Colon, assistant branch supervisor for Pierce County Library System’s Sumner branch, helps Judy and Warren Levy stay on track when using the library’s computers.
(Joan Cronk/for Senior Scene)