Need Tech Help? LEAP students can provide it

by Connie Kindsvater

Do you have an electronic device, computer or app that you’d like tech help to make it do what you want it to do? Would you like to learn to use social media, download eBooks or audio-books, learn to use library e-Resources such as e-Magazines and language learning?

Library Electronic Assistance Program (LEAP) students are ready, willing and tech-savvy-ready to help you. They are at seven Collier County Branch Libraries that employ knowledgeable high school students. “Each week, five to seven library patrons come to me for help,” said Isabel Hernandez-Marquez, the LEAP student at Golden Gate Library. “They call or stop by to make an appointment with me, mostly in late afternoon into evening. My patrons bring in Kindles, iPhones, iPads and even Amazon Echo Alexas. They frequently have gotten them as gifts and they don’t know how to use them,” “What do you want to learn?”

Hernandez-Marquez said that’s her first question to the library patron. “Some want to know how to turn a device on, change a password, put something on it or take something off of it. Next, I show them how to do it and ask
them for feedback. If needed, I show them again and when they feel comfortable with what they are doing, I ask them to show me that they now know how to do it,” she said.

David Chalick, Golden Gate  Library branch manager, said, “The LEAP program is one of the best ideas that has come across the Collier County Library system in 20 years. I have had a LEAP student at my library since the program started in 2014; Isabel is my fourth LEAP student, and all of them have been very capable young people.

We have had great feedback from our patrons about the LEAP program. I’m not aware of another way of getting this type of one-on-one technology help, for free. People get help with projects, software or hardware. The LEAP program fills a very important role in the community. My advice is to call or stop in at the library closest to you and set up an appointment with a LEAP student.”

“Being a LEAP student is a great way to learn more about job opportunities in technology and teaching.  Jobs now are asking you to have more degrees, so more  preparation is needed,” said Hernandez-Marquez.“I learned how to use the electronic devices by working with them on a regular basis,” she continued. “I like technology and I’m interested in how devices work. The STEM classes that I’ve taken (science, technology, engineering and math) promote technology, too.” Hernandez-Marquez, who was born and raised in Naples, is a senior at Lorenzo Walker High School, a member of the National Honor Society and the senior class secretary. When she finishes the practical nursing program at LWHS she plans to start working on a pre-med degree at FGCU, UCF or FSU.
“The Friends of the Library started the LEAP program in 2014,” said Bobbi Skaggs, Friends board member and LEAP program chair. “The purpose is for students, age 16 and older, to help older library patrons for whom
technology may have some challenges. High school students who are tech savvy are interviewed and some are hired to become LEAP student interns.

This may be their first paying job, and they currently work ten hours a week at the branch libraries.” The seven Collier County Public Libraries with LEAP student interns are: East Naples 239.775.5592, Golden Gate 239.252.4542, Headquarters, on Orange Blossom 239.593.0334, Immokalee 239.657.2882, Marco Island 239.394.3272, Naples Regional, on Central 239.262.4130 and South Regional 239.252.7542.

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