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Service Learning Report

Project Overview

Project Description

In Week 10 you gave us a Rough Draft of your Service Learning Project and recieved feedback from your instructor.  Now we are asking you to prepare that Report for Publication through the Scholar Platform.  You will get one more round of feedback - this time from your Peers - and then you will make your final submission.  Refer to the Service Learning Report Assignment in Moodle for the full instructions.

Icon for Technology Class Assistant

Technology Class Assistant

My Time Volunteering at the Elmhurst Public Library

Site Introduction

For the LIS 451 volunteer project I assisted in three technology classes/programs at the Elmhurst Public Library, one of the libraries where I normally work in the circulation department. I reached out to the head of technology in adult services and went from there. Our Lead Tech. Programming Specialist, Sarah, is the one that told me all about the different technology programs our library offers and how I could volunteer to help. She is in charge of volunteers. She along with the other technology specialists contribute program ideas each quarter, and there are successful long running ones that are always on rotation. Sarah looks at attendance stats and surveys that are filled out at the end of each class to help determine the success of a class, when is the best time to offer them, etc.

Elmhurst Public Library is a rather large library located in northern Illinois that serves a population of 45,556 people. It has a main level that houses the circulation department, several large meetings rooms, and the children’s department, an upper level that houses all the adult materials along with the computer lab and other technology, and there is also a basement that we are currently turning into a Makery. On average 1,200 patrons visit the library each day. The Elmhurst Public Library's mission, taken from their website, is to "enrich life in Elmhurst by providing opportunities to connect, create, and explore."

Technology Inventory

The classes I assisted with (along with all other technology classes offered at the library) were held in our computer lab that has 16 HP monitors/keyboards that are in fact hooked up to MAC mini computers. The cool thing is that these computers in the lab have dual-boot capability so they can be used either as Mac OS X or Windows 10 operating systems. There is another set of computers outside the lab that anyone can use as well when classes are occurring. At the end of the day the computers are shut down and the next day they are cleared of anything the patron may have left open on the computer, or a patron can restart the computer they are working on to clear it out themselves. Each computer has 4 GB of RAM and 223 GB of storage space. They run on an Intel Core i5 processor and a 64 Bit Operating System. Each computer is also wirelessly linked to the printer outside the room in case a patron needs to print anything. A few applications and links that are always on the computer include Office, Adobe, Our Library, which brings users to our cataloge, Rapid Typing, which is a learning to type program, Sway, and a register for programs link.

The Computer Lab Where Classes are Held

Although I couldn't get a hold of the IT department or Sarah to talk to me about how the library network is set up (they were either not at work while I was, on lunch, or busy), I can tell you a little bit more about other technology we have to offer at the library and what staff uses. On the library side we use Evanced to register patrons for classes and Sierra is the program we use that holds all our patron information, to check out to patrons, and place holds. Encore is the patron side of the catalogue found on our website. Besides the lab, computer stations, and creative studios upstairs, we have several computers in the children's department for kids to use as well. We also have laptops patrons can use in-house, a 3D printer, poster printer, and some meeting rooms are equipped with Mondopads for presentations. For patrons to check-out we have wifi hotspots, GoPro Hero, VHS-to-DVD convertors, and projectors. 

User Services

Patrons do not have to log on to any of the computers at the library, they are already up and running, but they can switch over to whatever operating system they prefer in the lab. There are instructions for this at every computer. Not having to log on means that other people that do not have a library card can still use our computers. The lab is open for anyone to use except for when a class is going on. Although there is no staff stationed inside the lab, there is a desk right outside that is always staffed for any patrons that may have a question. Patrons of all ages are welcome to use the computers in the lab and in the computer area upstairs, but most kids use the ones in the children’s department on the main floor.

Outside of the lab there is another set of computers in the open, and there is also one larger and two smaller creative studio labs with adobe creative software, recording equipment, and more that are located in the same area. Patrons can print from any computer and we have a copier/fax machine for them to use upstairs as well. If patrons bring their own computers there is plenty of seating available with free wifi. The Elmhurst Public Library has a large range of technology user services it offers. We even have drop-in tech time every Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon. Patrons can bring any technology device or question they need help with to the desk upstairs that is specfically staffed for this time.

As for the technology classes themselves, some are all ages, some are specifically for the younger audience, and we have classes for seniors as well. A short description of each class along with who it is for shows up on the calendar when patrons are registering on our website. My volunteer project focused on volunteering to help out with specific technology classes offered at the library. The patrons sign up for class so it is assumed that they know the scope of information they will be receiving in advance. There are a wide range of classes offered including beginner and intermediate Excel, Beginner Photoshop, 3D Printing, PowerPoint, iPhone, and more! If patrons can't make a class the library also has the handouts given during each class available on the library website to download. We also advertise the ability for patrons to take free online classes through the library using My volunteer job was to prep the classroom (put specific files on the computers, print out handouts, etc.) and help answer patron questions during the class. The classes I volunteered at were for adult patrons, who must sign up in advance but are welcome to attend without doing so if there are open seats. I personally assisted with two Excel Basics class and one Photoshop Beginner class which I discuss in more detail in the next section. 

Technology Classes Offered in May


Activities Report


Duration: 2.5 hours (This includes prep time.)

Location: Elmhurst Public Library, Computer Lab, 16 Computer Stations

Class: Excel Basics: Projects

Number of Attendees: 9 Patrons

Prep: I read through the handout that the class would be given in advance so I knew what the class would be covering. This was very helpful. I also arrived to the computer lab 20 minutes early to help set up the classroom. Since we have computers that can either be used in the Windows interface or the Mac interface I switched over any computer that was on the Mac side because we would be using Microsoft Office. I also put handouts on every seat. I then used a flash drive on every computer to put the Excel spreadsheet that the patrons would be working on. This way the patron could choose which station they preferred to work at. This Excel spreadsheet was created in advance by the instructor specifically for this class. It was a premade workbook of a grocery list. One side of the screen had the final list and the other was only partially filled out so the patrons could work on it.

During Class: Once we started getting into the more advanced steps I was constantly answering patron questions while Viki, the instructor who also works at the library, continued to teach or help other patrons. It was a good thing there were two of us since Excel can be a little more advanced for some. I didn’t just wait for patrons to ask questions, I also was continually walking around one half of the room checking on everyone. The patrons that attended the class were new to Excel and were there to learn so were very thankful for our help. I answered basic questions on how to copy and paste cells to more advanced formula questions. I knew just about every answer but maybe two. One question Viki helped answer instead of me, and the other was hard but I got it figured out. For that one, after the end of class, one of the patrons stayed later because they wanted to put their rows in alphabetic order. Although both Viki and I knew how to do this, it wasn’t showing up right on the screen. It was only letting us sort by columns even in the custom sort option. Then I finally found the options button on that same screen and switched it over from “sort top to bottom” to “sort left to right.” Everyone went home happy. It was nice to be able to talk out a technology problem among the three of us because it generated ideas, and that is when it clicked for me. I now know Excel a little better myself.

Reflection: This was a great learning experience. Patrons were very thankful when they left and said they learned a lot. I told them practice was key and that I was in a technology class for school right now and you learn a lot the more you apply it. Some even asked if I could volunteer at the other Excel classes! Although that didn’t work out for my busy schedule, it was nice knowing I helped.


Duration: 2.5 hours (This includes prep time.)

Location: Elmhurst Public Library, Computer Lab, 16 Computer Stations

Class: Excel Basics: Projects

Number of Attendees: 6 Patrons

Prep: I actually helped out with this class the first time around, but they were in need of a volunteer so I chose to do this one again. I actually had a different presenter for this program and her teaching style was slightly different. This along with the new group of patrons made this a new learning experience. I did the same prep as before, getting handouts ready and putting the documents needed on each computer.

During Class: We had a pretty even level of knowledge of Excel among the patrons making the class flow really well. They had similar questions to the first group, but were still unique. We had more questions to the general room than just one-on-one, but there were still plenty of those as well to keep me busy.

Reflection: I feel like I could be an immense help to future classes on Excel: Basics in the future now. I feel more confident.


Duration: 2.5 hours (This includes prep time.)

Location: Elmhurst Public Library, Computer Lab, 16 Computer Stations

Class: Photoshop Basics: Vintage Photo Fixes

Number of Attendees: 3

Prep: Handouts were distributed and files of practice photos were put on every computer.

During Class: This was a much smaller crowd than the last two classes I volunteered with. This actually turned out for the best because they were new computer users in general so we had to go over some computer basics to start. This did make the class a little slow moving, but I think it was okay because the women were pretty much on the same learning level. One may not think an assistant is needed with such few people, but Sarah was very glad I was there to help since they had a lot of questions. I don’t know Photoshop very well and I didn’t read the handout in advance, but I was able to answer most of the questions presented to me.

Reflection: I am a little sad this is my last class, but I would do it again in the future. Sarah said I was welcome back any time.

Final Thoughts

I see this volunteer project as a success. I learned a lot about what we offer patrons technology-wise at my library, and the hands-on experience has been great. I think it is good to know what type of computers are in our lab and what we actually have for our patrons to use. I should probably do something like this at the other library I work at as well. They don’t have classes, but I should at least take a closer look at the technology upstairs since I am really only familiar with the computers downstairs in the kid’s department where I work.

I never thought I would be very good at interacting with patrons in a technology way, but I think I am getting the hang of it. I have enjoyed assisting in these technology programs. I think this is something I may continue to do in the summer. The staff upstairs say they are always looking for people to help with the complex technology programs they offer. I will say that learning the basics (demystifying) of a computer earlier in the semester did help me become more confident during these sessions knowing that I have a framework of knowledge. Although finding the time to volunteer was a challenge, I am glad we had to do it.

As a final thought I want to share a video with you that I helped create back in 2015 to promote the library's huge upstairs renovation. In the video you will be able to see some of the technology the library offers upstairs, our collection, and the video was made using all of the equipment in our Creative Studio that patrons have access to. I am the goofball in the greenish sweater. Enjoy!

Media embedded May 1, 2017


  • Allison Riggs