Meet our 2024 Library Foundation Award honorees.

Computer 101: Free Tutorial at Chicago Public Library

Thanks to CyberNavigator Amy, patrons start using the computer and the Internet with confidence.

It had been a while since Betsy used computers on a regular basis. “I forgot mostly everything there is to know about using a computer, especially because I’m so used to doing things on my phone.”

Enter Amy Giacomucci, CyberNavigator at Sulzer Regional Library. “Amy taught me everything about computers. I relearned different functions and shortcuts of the keyboard like the command keys and how to use the Internet. It’s been a real journey,” says Betsy.

Aside from refresher classes on computer basics, Betsy was also able to fill out forms and accomplish other tasks online with Amy’s guidance.

 “We started with the time-sensitive stuff first, like how to submit my house deed, and then we worked from there. Now we’re identifying scams which is extremely helpful.”

A woman smiling.
CyberNavigator Amy helps patrons at Sulzer Branch with free computer lessons.
Photo credit: Elaine Smith.

Similarly, Linda M. has been meeting with Amy for a variety of topics. “She’s come in with questions on researching products, purchasing things online, how to use QR codes, identifying scams, using Library magazine subscriptions, and so much more,” explains Amy.

No Lesson Too Big or Small

Regardless of the lesson, Amy always begins with a simple but meaningful question, one that establishes a strong relationship between the teacher and would-be students, “What are you looking for from me?”

Then together, they come up with plans that help patrons advance each week. “If they’ve never used a computer before, we start with how to use a mouse and how to use a keyboard,” she says. “We begin where they feel comfortable and move up from there.”

When I ask Amy what she finds most rewarding bout the job, she says it’s seeing Library users’ progress in action, finding their stride as they use technology for business or pleasure. In just a few weeks, she’s able to see people go from learning the basics, to setting up email accounts and researching online.

She even helps patrons like Josephine who need help with designing and learning how to use advanced design software. “I’ve been using computers since they’ve been invented,” says Josephine. “But Amy has helped me learn how to use the latest technology and software so I can continue advancing in my career and nonprofit Board duties.”

Plus: “Amy never makes you feel embarrassed! We’re all on different levels of our journeys, but she never makes you feel dumb for your questions.” Talk about meeting people where they are!

CPL 🤝 CyberNavigators: Bridging the Digital Divide

For patrons like Betsy, Linda, and Josephine, Amy and the CyberNavigator program are invaluable resources.  “My sessions with Amy are customized to my needs. She taught me how to go paperless for bills and she also took the time to explain the different functions, parts, and features of my computer and phone. I feel like I have really learned so much with her,” says Betsy.

Especially as appointments, resources, and businesses have pivoted online, CyberNavigators are helping Chicagoans learn how to be digitally savvy.

Like Betsy, Linda M. has also learned how to pay her bills online, which has made her life more convenient. And for other patrons across the city, CyberNavigators are helping them utilize technology in a way that significantly makes a difference in their everyday lives.

“People are already using the Library to find answers to their questions. Something that CyberNavigators provide is an opportunity to sit down to work through their queries step by step and guide them in completing their online tasks from start to finish so they can be more independent in the future,” says Amy. “We’re a resource in people’s digital journeys and I am happy to encourage library users of all digital literacy levels to learn more, especially after the pandemic and everything has shifted online.”

Thank you, Amy, and to all the CyberNavigators helping bridge the digital divide across Chicago! The CyberNavigators program provides one-on-one digital literacy support to adult Library patrons across the city.

Thank you to the Polk Bros. Foundation, Exelon, Comcast, Peoples Gas, the Comer Family Foundation, and other generous donors to the Library Foundation for making this program possible.

Give a gift today and help us provide more Chicagoans with digital literacy skills that will help them thrive online.