Seniors can learn digital skills at libraries

NLB launches new programme to be held monthly and adds new features to mobile app

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann at Tampines Regional Library watching Mr Chang Yoke Poon, 64, use the 3D printer. Also watching Mr Chang's progress is his teacher, Mr Andrew Koh, 66. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann at Tampines Regional Library watching Mr Chang Yoke Poon, 64, use the 3D printer. Also watching Mr Chang's progress is his teacher, Mr Andrew Koh, 66. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

A new and free digital literacy programme aimed at seniors was launched by the National Library Board (NLB) yesterday.

Dubbed the Library Learning Journey, it will be held across 25 public libraries in Singapore with one-hour sessions every month on a number of topics, including how to access e-newspapers, Wireless@SGx, using QR codes, and using the revamped NLB mobile application.

Jointly developed with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the SG Digital Office, the programme is targeted at seniors but is also open to all residents.

Speaking to reporters at Tampines Regional Library, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann said the role of libraries has evolved with increased digitalisation in society.

Libraries are now seen as learning hubs where people could come to pick up new skills, she said.

Ms Sim, who was present at the event, said: "I think many (seniors) recognise that digitalisation is here to stay. However, I think sometimes they still need a little bit of encouragement and a little bit of customised assistance to gain that confidence to master the new skills. I think having a place where they can go back to refresh what they have forgotten is very important."

The sessions will be conducted in groups of four, led by trained digital ambassadors from IMDA. Seniors can sign up with digital ambassadors at the libraries.

To complement the launch of the programme, NLB revamped its mobile app with new features such as personalised book recommendations.

NLB's head of digital readiness Darren Chia said Covid-19 showed the importance of digital services, especially with movement restrictions.

All public libraries here were closed from April to June last year, with only digital services available online and on the mobile app.

Mr Chia said: "We really felt that it was time to ramp up getting seniors more digitally competent to use certain services because we cannot take for granted that these things will always be available in the physical format."

He also added that libraries are ideal places for learning, especially for those who may be fearful of picking up digital skills.

Mr Chia said: "It's about creating a very safe space, a friendly environment, and allowing them to learn at their own pace."

Tampines resident Cheryl Tiong, 59, was one of the attendees for a session held at Tampines Regional Library yesterday on how to use the NLB mobile app to access e-books.

Initially, Madam Tiong said she was a little afraid of using the Internet, but was less fearful after she picked up some digital skills during the pandemic.

Madam Tiong said: "I think e-books are convenient because I'm busy and don't have time to go down to borrow books. I'm interested to know what the libraries have to offer and if there is anything new that I don't know about."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2021, with the headline 'Seniors can learn digital skills at libraries'. Subscribe