There are over 21 million military veterans living in the U.S., and chances are good that veterans use your library every day. While they may simply be checking out books, using your computers or dropping by for storytime like anyone else, they may also be using your library to navigate the complex network of veterans benefits. If they ask for help, it might be useful to know where to direct them for information on special benefits and services available to veterans and their families.
This blog post outlines some of the services available, and it provides recommendations for how libraries can improve services to those who have served.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the government agency responsible for administering programs of veterans’ benefits for veterans, their families and survivors. The VA provides a range of services:
• Dependents’ and Survivors’ Benefits, including Disability and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and VA Civilian Health and Medical Program
• Education services, including the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill
• Life Insurance
• Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services
• Disability Compensation and Burial Benefits
• Home Loan Guaranty
But now veterans can also gain access to online benefits through a portal called eBenefits. The first step to using eBenefits is to visit https://myaccess.dmdc.osd.mil/identitymanagement/registration.do?execution=e1s1 and create an account.
The VA website, www.va.gov, offers more information on these services and eligibility requirements. Individuals can also get current information through the VA Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Veterans may specifically need help connecting with health services. A useful tool to know about is My HealtheVet, an online personal health record designated for veterans, active duty service members, their dependents and caregivers. My HealtheVet is a convenient way for veterans to manage health care online, reducing or completely eliminating the need to drive into a VA medical center.
Popular HealtheVet services include:
• Electronic access to labs, appointments, prescriptions, and other medical records in a single place
• Reliable health information/education across the entire spectrum of medical conditions affecting veterans
• Secure online messaging with health providers
The first step to using My HealtheVet is to visit www.myhealth.va.gov and create an account. Individuals have to show a picture ID and sign a special form at their next visit to a VA Medical Center before using the portal.
Veterans may also need help translating their military skills to civilian skills. The following websites provide useful information on this topic:
To improve your library services for veterans, consider these tips:
- Attend veteran organizations’ job fairs and other special events. Advertise your library services and computer classes to target this population.
- Library staff can be ready to help veterans by familiarizing themselves with the VA website and benefits available (outlined above). Of course, they don’t have to be the experts!- just knowing where to point veterans for more information will be appreciated.
- Refer to the VA webiste in computer classes you offer, especially if you know that veterans are in the class.
TechSoup for Libraries is offering a series of webinars exploring the Edge Initiative Benchmarks, which are currently being finalized. The Edge benchmarks will help you determine where your library stands in terms of public access technology and identify specific areas for improvement and investment. Although each webinar in the TechSoup Edge Initiative series is designed to help your library reach a benchmark related to public access technology, the webinars can be used more casusally to enhance library services.
This Wednesday’s webinar, “
The next webinar, “Tech-Savvy Staff: Better Service for Library Users“ is based on Benchmark 11, which includes the attribute, “Libraries have sufficient staff with technology expertise to help patrons achieve their goals.” Join special guests Penny Talbert and Stephanie Zimmerman to learn more about the Ephrata Public Library’s successful competency training for staff. Penny and Stephanie are both passionate believers in the importance of supporting learning in the context of new technological developments.
- Youth-led Tech @ the Library (Benchmark Seven)
- From Content Consumers to Content Creators (Benchmark Two)
- E-readers for Everyone: Teaching Tips from Trainers (Benchmark One)
Are you a TexShare library AND a BTOP partner?? If so- you are in luck! TSLAC is pleased to announce new database resources to support your BTOP project:
(Both available at www.libraryoftexas.org/texshare)
These two education and career development resources can help your library support new computer users and job seekers! They provide practice tests (GED, SAT, firefighting, EMS, health care, and many more); resume preparation; beginning computer and internet tutorials; and many more job and career resources. Patrons create their own personal accounts to track their goals, progress, and job searches.
This collection also includes these interactive multimedia tutorial collections: LearningExpress Popular Software Tutorials and LearningExpress Computer & Internet Basics.
- Access over 800 online practice tests and interactive skillbuilding tutorials to help launch or advance their careers.
- Prepare for professional certification, licensing, and aptitude tests in civil service, law enforcement, firefighting, EMS, military, real estate, and healthcare, among others.
- Prepare for college and graduate school admissions tests including the SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT.
- Successfully prepare for the GED® exam when working toward a high school diploma.
- Dramatically improve or refresh basic skills in reading, writing, and math.
- Comprehensive career information: A fully integrated interest assessment, career exploration, and job search platform helps job seekers explore careers that match their interests and expectations and build a personalized occupation knowledge base.
- Powerful resume creation: The industry’s most powerful Resume Builder, packed with more than 120 model resumes, 750 action words, and nearly 25,000 keywords by specific job classification.
- Occupational exploration: Over 1,000 Occupation Profiles allow job seekers to explore and compare occupations in detail including up to date wage and salary data, expected growth, key responsibilities, education requirements, and more.
- Real-time job & internship opportunities: An integrated database of over 5 million up-to-date job and internship opportunities, aggregated from leading job boards, classified ads, and other websites allows job seekers to search job openings based on interests and locations.
Can I Access These Resources from the TexShare Databases Menu?
Yes! These new resources now appear in the “Education and Career Development” section of the TexShare menu page. (Remember: you’ll need to either be IP-authenticated to see this page or key in your library’s TexShare username and password.)
Libraries with IP-authenticated access can use the following links right away:
LearningExpress Library: www.learningexpresslibrary.com
Job & Career Accelerator: http://jca.learnatest.com/lel
Note: If you’ve forgotten your library’s TexShare login and password, or would like to report the IP addresses of your library’s computers to enable automatic login, contact email@example.com.
Have questions or want more information ?! Read the full FAQ.
Developed with input, feedback and guidance from the field, the Edge benchmarks are designed to help public libraries continually evolve to meet the digital needs of their communities. This rating system, comprised of benchmarks and indicators that work as an assessment tool, can help library staff understand best practices in public access technology services for their communities and determine what steps they need to take to improve their technology services.
The Edge benchmarks are divided into three main categories that assess:
- Community Value: External practices that connect the library to the community.
- Engaging the Community & Decision Makers: Specific programs, services and supports that enable people to get value from their use of technology.
- Organizational Management: Internal management and infrastructure.
Each category has benchmarks for specific practices. Success on each benchmark is determined by a set of indicators that provide information about the progress. By working through the assessment it will be possible for a library to see, on different levels, where it is doing well and where it could improve.
To learn more about the Edge initiative, please visit www.libraryedge.org.
You can help shape this project to fit your library’s needs!
- Please take a moment to review the Edge benchmark framework and complete the constituent survey to provide your valuable feedback. Your response will help the coalition improve and refine the benchmarks for widespread adoption. Click here to complete the survey.
- In addition, our friends at TechSoup share a 2-question survey each month, collecting your thoughts about individual benchmarks. Here’s the most recent one about Benchmark 8, focused on partnerships and outreach.
Lost all your old emails and don’t know where to find them?
Upgraded your software, and now you can’t open your budget spreadsheet?
Afraid your computer caught a virus?
Help is a phone call away!
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission now supports Texas public library IT needs through a Support Help Desk run by Premier Logitech. Technical support experts, Adam Beatty, previously a TANG Consultant in North Texas, and Keith Dillard work exclusively to assist Texas librarians. Keith and Adam are on the phones from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (Central Time) Monday through Friday.
They provide hardware support, including questions on installation, upgrades, maintenance, and repairs; and answer questions about desktops, laptops, printers, scanners, and other hardware routinely found in libraries. They support common software programs, assist with basic network troubleshooting, answer questions about security and ad blocking utilities, and more!
Contact Adam and Keith with your IT questions: 1-855-90-TSLAC
One in three people in the U.S. do not have access to the internet at home. As we all know from personal experience, libraries across the country are transforming their lives by offering free public access to computers, friendly one-on-one assistance and, increasingly, formal computer classes.
Are you looking for a compelling way to communicate the value of these library services to your community?
Earlier this summer the Gates Foundation released a great video called Libraries: A Digital Bridge that every library should blog, put on their Facebook page, Tweet, place on their website or send to their administrators! Or do all of the above! You can turn this video into positive PR for your local library.
Spread the word about how libraries are transforming lives, by changing the way we connect:
Here’s the direct link in case the video won’t load for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cwsrgMOcLA&nomobile=1
At the TEAL Tech Training Exchange workshops last year, we learned valuable training tips and tricks from Brenda Hough and Stephanie Gerding, author of The Accidental Technology Trainer: A Guide for Libraries. If you want a refresher (or just a little inspiration!), Stephanie is leading a four-week online course this fall that will cover many of the how-to technology training topics that we explored in the workshops. And if you missed the Tech Training Exchange workshops last year, this is your second chance-sign up for Stephanie’s online course!
The Accidental Public Library Technology Trainer Online Course will run September 10–October 5, 2012.
Fees for the class range from $129-$179, based on the registrant’s PLA and ALA membership status, but Texas State Library BTOP funds may be availble to cover applicable fees for trainers at BTOP/TEAL sites. Email Denise Hendlmyer at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in a scholarship by Monday, August 20th. Scholarships will be availble on a first come, first serve basis!
Course Description: Accidental technology trainers find themselves unexpectedly responsible for technology training—in labs, classrooms, or one-on-one with users or staff. Every library is providing some kind of technology training these days. Even if you are just answering questions “on-the-fly,” an organized approach will result in better service and save time and money.
In this four-week blended learning course, you’ll learn great tools and techniques, solutions to the most common concerns of library technology trainers, and helpful, personalized advice from many years of coordinating and providing training for public libraries. Through a combination of live webinars, independent assignments, and online discussions, you’ll discover how to best help participants learn, how to save time planning and designing training, how to create an interactive learning experience, and how to best communicate about technology.
Who Should Attend?: Public library staff who are responsible for providing technology training—in groups or one-on-one—to patrons or library staff; library staff responsible for managing library technology trainers; library staff who are responsible for providing training of any kind, including digital literacy.
For more information and a complete course description, please review the course syllabus. Reserve your spot today! or, if money is a concern, email email@example.com to see if a scholarship is available to cover applicable registration fees.
In this rapidly changing world, even the most tech-savvy can find it hard to keep up with the hottest Web 2.0 technologies. Integrating these technologies into the classroom and sharing with others can be even more challenging! If you find yourself short on time and struggling to keep up, give Learn It In 5 a chance. This powerful library of how-to videos, produced by technology teachers, promises to help teachers (and librarians! and technology trainers!) create 21st century digital classrooms. The videos may even help you field patron reference desk questions on new technologies!
Learn It In 5 step-by-step how-to videos will walk you through Web 2.0 technology, demonstrating how to use popular applications like blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wikis, slide sharing and much more! And the best part is that the videos are short (less than 5 minutes each, hence the name… ) and explain the most basic and useful features of applications clearly and concisely. This Learn It In 5 video explains how to make a screen capture video with Jing:
In addition to useful videos like this one, Learn It In 5 is a social network and features the blog, Digital Learning Strategies. Learn It In 5 also offers videos for teachers/trainers to use in the classroom in the Videos for your class section. Videos cover a wide array of topics, from climate change to Google scholar and online research techniques.
Whether you want to try something new and interactive in the classroom or are stumped at the reference desk- Learn It In 5 has solutions and inspiration for you!
Do your patrons want to upgrade their technology skills, but your library lacks the necessary resources–equipment, staff, and/or time–to offer formal classes? Don’t worry- the Technology Expertise, Access and Learning for all Texans Project may be able to help!
Starting next month, the TEAL Mobile Computer Lab trainers are hitting the road to provide free computer and work force skills training sessions for your patrons. But before they can do that, all interested Texas libraries need to take a few moments and fill out a short registration survey. By submitting a survey, your library can schedule courses and communicate special needs, such as space limitations and if you require Spanish language support.
Shortly after you fill out the survey, the trainers will contact your library to finalize scheduling details. They will also mail you a promotional packet, complete with posters, flyers, and other goodies to help get the word out to your local community.
For more information about the TEAL Mobile Computer Lab program, please read the program overview. You can also find more information about the TEAL trainers, download promotional materials, and browse detailed course descriptions online.
Don’t wait! Register for free technology training courses today!
Last week, TSLAC hosted a webinar with Connected Texas to encourage libraries to take advantage of Every Community Online (ECO), a new online portal offering FREE computer skills and internet training for the public (your library patrons!). After registering for the program, completing GCF Learnfreee learning modules and an evaluation, participants are entered into a computer sweepstakes and also qualify for exclusive provider offers. The librarian to all Texas librarians, Peggy Rudd, is very excited about this new resource:
“TSLAC is excited to share ECO with Texas librarians who are teaching basic computer and internet skills to their patrons,” says Peggy D. Rudd, State Librarian.”This is an exciting opportunity for librarians to utilize proven curriculum that is located in one, convenient online location. Also, we believe the ECO incentives such as the computer sweepstakes, will encourage more patrons to sign up for classes and get online.”
During the Every Community Online Computer Training webinar, the Executive Director of Connected Texas gave an overview of ECO and an experienced technology trainer also provided practical tips for incorporating this online resource into your library programming. Tips for using the resource to conduct formal computer classes include:
Prepare folders for class handouts and include a sticker for participants to record their ECO username and password
Divide your computer classes into three, two hour sessions, to correlate with the learning modules:
1. What is a computer?
2. What is the Internet?
3. What can the computer/Internet do for you?
Walk students through the ECO registration process and familiarize them with how the site works during class
Allow for plenty of hands-on practice and exploration