FINLAND

Old man’s moped

The structure of the population in the Kiri library region, which comprises nine municipalities, is aging at an ever increasing pace. For this reason, libraries have already considered ways to organize specialized training in information acquisition for the elderly population.

The number of staff in Kiri libraries, as in libraries in general, is at a minimum and assigning someone to systematically instruct information acquisition is impossible. Therefore, the libraries made a decision in the autumn of 2005 to apply for funding from the Ministry of Education to hire an informatician to work with senior citizens.

The purpose was for the informatician to organize the government-funded ‘Finland in the information society’ program for the elderly population to teach the elderly how to use modernday sources of information. The program would take place in the Kiri libraries. The name of the project was ‘Informaticians and work with the elderly’. The total budget for the project was 16,660 euro and it took place between 1. September 2006 and 28. February 2007. The Ministry of Education accepted the application and in spring 2006 made a decision to grant the Kiri libraries funding amounting to 11,500 euro to initiate the ‘Informaticians and work with the elderly’ project.

Librarian Kari Blomster was hired as the informatician for the project, which was called ‘Old man’s moped’ for practical reasons. In autumn 2006, he planned a curriculum, organized the times and places for the training and inserted advertisements in the local newspapers about ‘The old man’s moped that has room for the madams too!’

A total of 183 people participated in the program, and they met a total of 19 times during the spring term. There were as many as 18 participants at one time, which is certainly the maximum for one instructor at a time. The participants were aged 35 and up, and the majority of them were men although the advertisement invited women to hop onto the moped as well.

Paying the bills via internet is easy. Kari Blomster shows how to do it. Photo: Maaselkä/Marita Nissinen

They didn’t dare use the computer

In Haapajärvi, a rather young, married couple joined the instruction while their kids were at school.When the lesson was over, they hurried home to practice using the Internet before the kids returned home from school. They said they didn’t dare use the computer while their kids were watching because their kids had such better skill at using a computer than they did.

The training provided knowledge about the basics of using the Internet, the more common search engines, online banking, and using email. Participants also searched for time schedules for trains, information on health, discussion forums, etc. For homework, the participants were to send email to the instructor after certain time periods. Participants were extremely motivated and said the training was of great benefit to their everyday life. Their motivation was also evident in the fact that all of the people that attended the training the first time signed up for the continuation course.

Local newspapers, mainly small parochial papers, were invited to the courses, and they wrote complimentary articles about ‘Old man’s moped’, which most likely prompted people to participate in the subsequent course. The aim is to rev up the moped again in the autumn and offer review and additional tips for those who participated in the spring courses, as well as to teach new participants the basics.

Old man’s moped: an extremely positive experience!

Eila Telinkangas

Library Director Haapajärvi

eila.telinkangas AT haapajarvi.fi

Translated by Turun Täyskäännös

Eila Telinkangas

Library Director Haapajärvi

 

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