Independence Co. Library sees long lines for free computer classes

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Navigating a computer seems like an ingrained ability for younger generations, but many adults still struggle to access the Internet or to use a mouse.

The Independence County Library is stepping up to help by offering free computer classes for residents. The coursework starts with the basics, like learning to use a mouse, and advances to tackle Microsoft Office and typing.

County Librarian Vanessa Adams says retirees have mainly attended the courses, but younger job seekers have recently asked for help. Employers now commonly ask applicants about their computer skills, so Adams is assisting a growing number fill that void on their resumes.

"In this day and age, almost every company requires that you fill out an application online, especially national companies," Adams noted. "Even if you're not going to use a computer in your job, they still require computer skills for you to fill out an application."

Bonita Bangs of Batesville, though, simply wants to be able to surf the Internet with ease.

"I've learned a lot that I'm doing wrong," Bangs said about her first five or six sessions in class, "but you have to do wrong some before you get it right."

She aspires to bridge the technological gap that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren have easily mastered. She has even discovered some unexpected places with just a click of the mouse.

"I was all the way over in Africa on this map," Bangs said, laughing. "It took me about 20 tries to get as close as Mountain View.

Bangs enrolled in the free computer classes at the library several weeks ago. Her close friends and family have asked her about the coursework, and she encourages them to attend, promising, "come one time, and they'll be back."

The library began offering the computer classes at no cost in October. Enrollment started off slowly, but word of mouth spread quickly. Spaces on the sign-up sheet fill up so rapidly now that almost every session has a waiting list.

"I think everyone's New Year's resolution was to learn the computer, so my classes are full now," Adams said.

The number of young jobless residents attending the courses initially surprised Adams, but she says she has had to deal with her more mature students' fear of the equipment.

"Once they realize they won't break it, then they're pretty good," Adams added with a laugh.

The classes are currently capped at four students because the library only has four laptops set aside for the service. Adams says she hopes to bring in more people, but she will likely need a few more computers and a bigger meeting space.

"I wish I could clone myself, so I can teach more," she said.

To enroll or learn more about the computer classes, contact the Independence County Library at 870-793-8814 or visit its website by following this link.

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