Kāpiti libraries making moves in the digital world

24 Jan 2023, 9:00 AM

Did you know Kāpiti Coast District Libraries has a collection of digital devices aimed at boosting the computing capability of both staff and the community?

In the last year the library has stocked up on a range of digital tools for the public to use to grow their digital literacy and confidence.

Kit includes virtual reality headsets to experience gaming, history or stories, a 3D printer for design and making, programmable robots, and laptops and tablets to help with tasks like online banking, research, word processing or shopping.

Most importantly we’ve also got Digital Inclusion Specialist Zed Ng on board to lead the library’s digital work programme and provide opportunities to experience new technologies in a safe way.

It’s all part of a strategy to help lift the digital literacy of the Kāpiti community and make sure everyone has access to emerging digital technologies and trends.

Zed and the library team have been making time and space available for different groups to experience what these tools can do.

These include hosting sessions for the home school community, holiday and after school programmes, participating in Craft Café sessions. They also run the well-attended digital drop-in sessions at the Paraparaumu and Ōtaki libraries or at retirement villages to help residents with their online tasks.

“We’re trying to do something every month and have plans to use it more,” Zed says.

“What we can provide is a low-pressure introduction to some technology which can be a good way for people to find out what really interests them or learn more in a non-threatening way.”

Tools like Edison or Bee-Bot programmable robots can let people see how programming or coding works, VR headsets offer gaming or storytelling experiences, and a 3D printer can bring design ideas to life.

While some of the equipment looks toy like, Zed says it is not just for kids.

“This equipment can help people build their digital literacy and learn how to think like an algorithm, which can make doing things like internet banking easier.

“Digital literacy is about understanding patterns and moving from A to B in a logical way. If you can understand how to do something you can be in better control, which is really important in the modern world when so much of what we do is online.”

By having a go at coding one of the Bee-Bots to travel a route of your design or creating a 3D printed object, people of all ages can get a better understanding of how technology works in a fun way. You might also discover a new passion – the potential for creativity and learning is limitless.

“The key is to get stuck in, have a go and not be afraid to break anything.”

Delivering this kind of experience is new for the library team too so there is an element of learning and growing together.

A key part of Zed’s work is to help his library colleagues build their digital skills and plan improvements to the IT infrastructure in the libraries to better support the digital tools.

“We’re looking at offering a mix of permanent and pop-up opportunities and to partner with other local technology organisations to run events and lend out gadgets.

“It’s a process though and will take time to fully establish what we’re hoping to, but we’ve started the journey and will be rolling out more opportunities to get involved over the coming year.”

Find out more about our Libraries' Digital toolkit.