Testimony for the Working Group On the Status of Vermont Libraries

an older white man sits at a table behind a pile of books
[image credit: Library of Congress]

I was asked to give testimony about technology for the Working Group On the Status of Vermont Libraries. this is what I wrote.

My name is Jessamyn West. I am a librarian who lives in Orange County Vermont. I have a technology background, an MLIS, and I have worked for and with public libraries since moving to Vermont in 1997. I’ve written a book about technology instruction called Without A Net: Libraries Bridging the Digital Divide and I do public speaking on technology topics nationwide. I run the website and other technology for the Vermont Library Association, a professional association for public librarians in the state. I am the elected Vermont Chapter Councilor for the American Library Association.

My main work has been helping small rural libraries and their patrons learn to use technology to solve problems. I started as an outreach librarian at Rutland Free Library where I taught email classes using a flip chart and began my current work in 2005 when I was hired at the Randolph Technical Career Center as an Americorps worker. This is a regional tech ed facility serving many “sending towns.” RTCC wanted to do some outreach to those sending towns and so my job there was a combination of teaching local technology classes in their adult education program, doing direct outreach to the rural libraries in those towns, and what I called “Drop-In Time” which was an open session where anyone in the community could come ask technology questions on a weekly basis.

Drop-In Time started because we were finding that the people who signed up for our basic technology classes sometimes didn’t have the basic technology skills—vocabulary, mousing skills, keyboarding—to take those classes. We would also sometimes get referrals from the state’s vocation rehabilitation people and the local adult basic education program. Over time that job morphed into what I do now which is a similar Drop-In Time on a weekly basis as a library assistant with Kimball Public Library in Randolph Vermont. Since the beginning of COVID I will also occasionally do tech support email exchanges or Zoom/Skype/Teams/Hangouts technical support which the library employs me for, at library assistant wages.

I’d like to briefly address what I see as the main issues in the areas the Working Group on the Status of Libraries in Vermont has asked about. Continue reading “Testimony for the Working Group On the Status of Vermont Libraries”

CIL reprint: Your Digital Life After You

This article was originally published in Computers in Libraries magazine in 2017. Some of the advice may be out of date.

Practical Technology – Your Digital Life After You
by Jessamyn West

More and more, our lives are lived online. When my father died six years ago, we were pleased to find a Google Document with the usernames and passwords to every account he ?owned?. He was an engineer and so this was not terribly surprising. Most of these accounts were things like bank account?s and cable subscriptions, but a few were email accounts and (small) social media profiles. This made a complicated time much simpler.

What if we hadn’t been able to access his information? Jan Zastrow has written a great article on digital estate planning which mentioned some of these ideas. Here are some specific tech tools you can use to help you archive and prepare your legacy on social media sites and content repositories.
Continue reading “CIL reprint: Your Digital Life After You”