My experience working as a ReServist last year was very rewarding. I was placed at the New York Public Library as a Technology Instructor for their E-Reader Petting Zoo program, to teach older adults how to use E-Readers such as iPods, iPads and Kindle. I had the good fortune to return to my former employer, where I worked for more than thirty five years. It was a pleasure to see former co-workers.
My assignment sent me to several branches of the New York Public Library, where five other ReServists were also being engaged as Technology Instructors. We instructed seniors on the use of E-Readers and tablets. Patrons asked so many fascinating questions, and often I had to perform additional research to provide the best answers. Through my research, I discovered I was becoming quite knowledgeable about these relatively new technologies, and I began offering advice to friends and family outside of my assignment.
On weekends I visited various computer technology stores (Best Buy, B & H, J & R, etc.) to purchase different E-Reader and tablet devices. Often, I would bring these devices I had purchased with me on our visits to the branches, offering patrons a wider selection of what was available. Since many of them had received E-Readers and tablets for Christmas, birthdays and other occasions, they where thrilled to learn how to use them.
My biggest thrill was the purchase of an Apple iPad and attending Apple’s workshops gaining vast knowledge on the use of the iPad.
I was also surprised by how much I learned from our patrons in return, many of whom were seniors. I kept a photo diary of our many branch and senior center visits, documenting the responses of our varied patrons.
At the end of my assignment with the New York Public Library I had a wonderful collection of E-Readers and tablets, yes, including my newly acquired Apple iPad. I made some wonderful new friendships with both co-workers and patrons.
Before retiring, James was a librarian at the New York Public Library for more than 35 years. He began this career as assistant to Curator and manager of photographic services at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In a volunteer capacity he performs mentoring and out-reach for teens at risk. James has a MLIS from Pratt University and a BA from CUNY and lives in Harlem. To commemorate Older Americans Month, ReServe invited ReServists to write original essays about their current or past assignment. This is one of twelve essays. – ED