“How To” Tech Tips and Resources

Patrons often ask library staff for help with technology. Fortunately, the Web offers many resources to help people learn how to use their new smartphone or even program their DVR.

The first step toward finding how-to information on the Web is to know how to search effectively, and of course, librarians are expert at this task. However, if visitors dont have time to sit down with you or they prefer to learn from home, search engines provide easy instructions and tips.

Google is the most popular search engine. For search tips, check out the Inside Search website, which provides common tips and tricks for finding just the information youre seeking. While youre there, be sure to check out Search Stories. These are really advertisements for Google, but theyll also tug at your heartstrings all while demonstrating the many uses for search.

With the arrival of iPads and eBooks, you may be getting a lot of questions from new owners of tablets. The iPad Academy offers general tips and guidance (as well as a paid course) for learning how to use your iPad. And dont forget about the State Library Mobile Discovery Device Program, which is another great way to learn how to use new mobile tools, and prepare yourself for inquiries.

For patrons who need help borrowing ebooks from your library, consider creating a custom video. The Plainsboro Public Library has created a series of videos that walk patrons through the steps of borrowing an ebook and downloading it to their tablet, Kindle or Nook.

Finally, the second most popular search engine is YouTube, and its popularity is driven not by humorous cats, but by how to help videos. The most searched how to topic? How to Tie a Tie. You can find help on just about any subject, from how to use your smartphone to how to program your DVR. Perhaps start a YouTube channel for your library and share your own how to library advice.

What are the most frequent technology questions you get from patrons? Let me know in the comments below, and Ill help you find useful resources that you can share.

About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.