Libraries Get Online service: the final part of our conversation with a learner and volunteer

We introduced you over the last couple of weeks to two people who have been involved in the Libraries’ Get Online service. Joyce Young recently completed a series of sessions with volunteer Emily Johnson, learning how to use her iPad. We discover here the benefits to the volunteer too.

Have you enjoyed the sessions Emily, and do you feel they have a real benefit from the volunteers’ point of view too?

Emily: I think I’ve found one of the best things about volunteering is that it takes me away from studying all the time; I’ve found it all very relaxed because we’ve chatted a lot too about what Joyce wanted to learn or was interested in; that’s been a big part of it and it’s been really enjoyable. Apart from that though thinking ahead for me, even with a degree, there is so much competition for jobs out there you really have to have different things on your CV – so this kind of volunteering is an example of the sort of thing that just might make you stand out to an employer. So, it is certainly beneficial to me as well and, in fact, thinking about the sessions, I thought I knew the iPad really well but there were things I discovered and things I worked with Joyce on where we had to refer to Google or Youtube or whatever to find out how to do something. So, I was learning sometimes too and Joyce was learning how she’d be able to find things out on her own. I think that all helps to give the person confidence.

Overall then Joyce, you think it has been a worthwhile process?

Joyce: Definitely. You see, I think when you are older, you think things are going to be more difficult than they turn out, and that’s where the help I’ve had was so important. When Emily showed me how to send a photo, I took notes and did it for myself and I couldn’t believe how easy it was compared to how I thought it was going to be. I always thought it was going to be really complicated, that I’d just find it all too difficult to understand but really, after being with Emily, and being shown things properly, it’s a lot easier than I expected it to be. I’m thrilled with what I’ve learnt

Emily: Do you remember the time we were looking at your email and working through how to use it . . . . . . ?

Joyce: Oh yes (laughing) when I discovered that when I send an e-mail, I just put in the first letter of the person I want to send it to and the address goes in for you. For a long time I had a wee book with email addresses in it! There’s times when you could feel a bit foolish but working 1:1 with someone it really doesn’t matter; we often ended up just laughing about it!

Joyce: ” I always thought it was going to be really complicated, that I’d just find it all too difficult to understand but really, after being with Emily, and being shown things properly, it’s a lot easier than I expected it to be”.

As I said before it’s made a big difference to my life and I now also enjoy just ‘pottering about with it’ sometimes too, just looking at photos and places or finding things on the internet – the time I’ve spent with Emily means I can do that and I’ve lost the worry about doing something wrong and breaking it. It’s been great and I’m going to continue using my iPad and learning more.

If you are interested in finding out more about Get Online in the libraries or you would like to book a place click/tap here. We will be running groups over five weekly sessions at Portobello, Stockbridge, Leith and Central Library between now and June. Please note that these are for any device (laptop, iPad, tablet or smartphone!)



Libraries’ Get Online service : a conversation with a learner and volunteer

The Libraries’ Get Online service runs groups offering free help and tuition in using new technology and getting the most out of ‘being online’. We provide 1:1 support to people in five weekly sessions. Learners are paired up with one of our volunteers to work on the person’s device (be that laptop, tablet or phone) or indeed to work with anyone who doesn’t yet have a device.

We spoke with a recent learner, Joyce Young, and the volunteer who worked with her, Edinburgh University student, Emily Johnson, about how positive they were about the experience of this service. Here is the first instalment of our conversation. . . .

How did you find yourself coming to Get Online at the library? What did you feel about coming along?

Joyce: “About a month before Christmas my son phoned me to say he was going to get me an iPad for my Christmas and I wasn’t too sure about it at all. However, he also told me that he had signed me up for lessons at Central Library for people needing help with all the new gadgets there are. He arranged this from London actually but, anyway, at first I thought ‘I really don’t know; I don’t know anything about this’. I had had a laptop before but I only used it for one or two things and was really very wary of it. So, when my son suggested the iPad and the lessons I honestly wasn’t sure as I’ve said. As it has turned out I’m very glad I came. I actually had a couple of sessions before Christmas and then we started again towards the end of January. When I think that I came along to the first session the iPad was still in the box (!) . . .  however, I had the same person, Emily, with me each time and she was really good at showing me what to do, very patient and encouraging. Even after just two or three lessons I was thinking ‘you know, I can do this’ and since then I feel I’ve come on in leaps and bounds.

Joyce Young: After just two or three sessions I was thinking ‘you know, I can do this’!

To Emily our volunteer: how have you found being involved in this as a volunteer?

I think my favourite thing from the beginning was the fact it really was great to be involved with Joyce quite literally right from the start. As Joyce said, the iPad was still in the box so there was so much I could look forward to showing Joyce but you didn’t really know what yet, or where it might go. But, I think even the setting up of an iPad – or any other device – is not as straightforward as it might seem; you can’t just switch it on and go.

So even just setting up the device is an issue? 

Emily: Yes, it was good to take Joyce through those steps and past that first hurdle. In fact, that took up pretty much the whole of the first session and I also did step-by step notes for Joyce on how to link her iPad up to her Wi-Fi at home for the first time. That’s not the end of it either, you still have so much ‘setting up’ to do to get the email up and running and getting someone like Joyce to understand about registering for things so she could use say the BBC iPlayer or Spotify or whatever which all involves ‘signing up’ and passwords and all of that.

Emily Johnson : “There is so much ‘setting up’ to do and any of (it) not working could just put people off completely”

All of these are potentially a big thing for people who haven’t any experience of it at all and any of them ‘not working’ could just put people off completely. But, when I think back now, being able to show Joyce things like Spotify (a music app) for example when we looked for an old song she had mentioned. It was such a nice feeling to find it and work in an app; that really went for all the sessions, finding something Joyce enjoyed and, every week, finding something new.

Part Two of the conversation about Get Online with Joyce and Emily will come soon

If you are interested in finding out more about Get Online in the libraries or you would like to book a place click/tap here


Shopping online for beginners!

Never ventured into the world of shopping online? Don’t trust it? Frightened of scams? Come along to our “How To” presentation and workshop – bring along your tablet/laptop – we won’t be doing any actual shopping on the day but we can take you through the things to look out for to keep it all safe and we will also show you typical/well known shopping sites and the simple steps involved in using them. . . . all just in time for Christmas!


Limited places available, contact Kenny Sharkey on 242 8124 / 07809320432

or email


Art & cookery – from Syria and other countries to Edinburgh

An exhibition opens 4 November on the Central Library Staircase, running until 29 displaying art work from an art and cookery project organised by City of Edinburgh Council Lifelong Learning, uniting adult education students from various countries  – Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Scotland – including Syrian and Syrian Kurdish families (refugees) who had only been recently, resettled to Edinburgh.

Sharing favourite foods, cooking techniques and recipes made the group come together very easily, supported by two experienced Italian chefs /adult education tutors.

Artists and adult education tutors Susie Wilson and Justine Woycicka led the art work of the project. Using various different techniques of drawing and printmaking, the students made images inspired by both their experiences of cooking, and the stories connected to these recipes.

Students learnt how to make a book structure to keep their favourite recipes and incorporate their images and words into the pages and covers. Each student could contribute to a collaborative recipe book as well as making a smaller book for themselves.

The project was funded and part of Trans-nationalising Modern Languages: Mobility Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures: a 3 year project funded by the Art and Humanities Research Council and involved researchers at St Andrews, Queen Margaret, Bristol, Cardiff and Warwick Universities.

Join us in the Central Library for digital drop-in session

Central Library is hosting a new digital ‘drop-in’ service in partnership with Edinburgh University on Friday afternoons. From 8th September a group of students will be available to help you with your technology problems be they on laptop, tablet or smartphone. Bring along your device and sort out the issues or problems you are having whether it is perhaps some basics like how to get onto and search the internet, how to set up an email address or perhaps a more specific issue with how your device or a particular app works. The ‘drop-in’ takes place every Friday at the George Washington Browne Room from 1.30 – 4pm. Come along, get that technology headache fixed and have a cup of tea and a biscuit while you are in!

Cyber crime – how safe are you online?


mouseFind out more about cyber crime and how to avoid it at a free event hosted by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. They’ll be joined by a representative from Police Scotland and will give information on internet security including:

  • Current cyber scams
  • Advice about safe surfing
  • How prosecutors consider cyber scam cases.

The event is being held at Central Library at 2pm on Thursday 16 February 2017 and may be particularly useful to people aged 50+.

Reserve your free place via EventBrite  or contact Laura Connell for more information.

A week in art space

The space art shuttle has blasted off from Central Library but for a week during half-term, we enjoyed a fun-packed week of space art and craft creating flying rockets, making craters and galaxies, designing planets with collage, and painting and sticking with glitter!

Thanks to all our space artists who came along with their parents and carers for family fun and to our space librarians who led these workshops.

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This event formed part of Edinburgh City Libraries’ celebration of the annual UK Big Draw held during October each year, promoting drawing for all and its facility for changing lives and stimulating creativity. This year’s theme was ‘The STEAM Powered Big Draw’, with a focus on bringing together Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths in school curricula worldwide.