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A 'new page' at the Red Wing Library

Locals looking for information on how to use iPads, computers, e-readers and other technology can now turn to the place they often search for other insight — the Red Wing Public Library.

The library has continued to expand services beyond books, movies and music. Staff members have started teaching classes on how to use tablets and computers, effective job searches and social networking.

“This is not a direction the library has gone previously,” library employee Melissa Hill said. “This is a new page, if you will. We’re hoping it really will have a significant impact on our citizens.”

The library used grant money from the Jones Family Foundation and the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation to purchase 10 iPads and 10 notebook PCs, along with software and accessories. They converted a basement meeting room into a makeshift computer lab, and also take the teaching on the road to sites such as Pier 55, the senior center.

The library also partnered with Hiawatha Valley Adult Basic Education to provide classes to its students during the day at the library’s lab, including a free computer literacy class offered Mondays and Wednesdays.

“We give their students another place and time to come,” library employee Randy Decker said.

Expanding beyond traditional programming is becoming more common in many libraries, Decker said, but locally it also stemmed from a desire to offer more options for adults.

Many of the classes are geared toward older adult beginners, Decker said. But the library also wants to help others who aren’t as familiar with technology but need it for necessities such as searching for a job. 

“Computer literacy is a big issue,” Hill said.

The curriculum the library purchased for the classes from a company called OASIS also offers versions in Spanish, so staff hope to reach out to native Spanish speakers locally as well, Hill said.

Decker said while there have been a lot of requests for help with technology, he was still surprised by the class attendance in the sessions already held so far this month.

“The iPad classes have been wildly popular,” he said.

Library staff has been working to offer more activities across departments, Hill noted, from more children’s programs to new online resources such as language program Mango to coffee tastings and speakers.

“We’re trying a variety of different things and seeing what sticks,” she said.

The library has also started offering a weekly drop-in tech clinic on Thursday afternoons to answer questions about e-readers, tablets, computers and other technology.

“We get these questions a lot,” Decker said, and setting aside that specific time means staff can focus on answering them.

Future plans

Hill said she hadn’t worked on grant applications before but decided to give it a try. The library was “blown away” and thrilled with the results, she said.

The grant money was for the equipment, and the library is taking on other costs going forward, Hill said.

In the future, Decker said the staff will monitor the demand for classes and see what is needed as time goes on.

“It’s exciting to see where this is going to take us,” Hill said.

For more information on the library and programs, visit or call 651-385-3673.

Here are some upcoming classes the Red Wing Public Library has planned:

• Beginning iPad, Jan. 21 and 22, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., library

• Online Privacy and Computer Security, Jan 28 and 30, 1 to 3 p.m., library

• Meet the Computer, Jan. 28, 1 to 3 p.m., library

• Intermediate iPad, Feb. 3 and 5, 10 a.m. to noon, Pier 55

• E-readers, Feb. 10, 10 a.m. to noon, Pier 55

• Beginning Facebook, Feb. 4, 11 and 18, 1 to 3 p.m., library

• Complete Job Search, February, six two-hour sessions, times to be determined

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

(651) 459-4629