Have questions about using computer programs, setting up email accounts, getting audio books on your phone or need access to a 3D printer?
The 4S Ranch Library can help.
While assistance has always been available, the county library branch has just started offering tech help appointments and drop-in help service at designated times so library techs Phil Coba, Sergio Ordonez and Jill Burke can provide 15 minutes of free one-on-one assistance .
“There are a lot of IT (information technology) books for dummies, but there is a difference between reading versus hands-on experience,” Coba said. “We can really help with customers … troubleshooting and making it not as scary.”
“We want people to feel welcome to come to the library and not be afraid to learn and ask for help when they come to print summaries, school work or other projects with which they need help in any way,” Ordonez said.
Coba said they can help with a wide assortment of devices, including phones, tablets and laptop computers. In addition, librarians know how to find the latest information online since technology changes quicker than updated versions of books can become available.
Assistance is available with email, printing, Wi-Fi, downloading software apps, using software and websites, creating a 3D print file and other related needs. They can also help patrons of all ages find information about software applications, websites, social media, hardware, printers, phones and other technology.
The assistance is for learning and developing basic technology skills, not computer repair, coding or virus problems.
“It is required for librarians to know the technology since we are expected to help customers,” Ordonez said.
“We don’t know everything … but it’s fun working with the apps,” Burke said, adding that by knowing in advance what a customer needs assistance with, if unfamiliar with something, they can do research before the one-on-one. one session.
While librarians can answer patrons’ technology questions at any time, the 4S Ranch staff thought by having a dedicated space for the assistance patrons might be more open to requesting help, Coba said.
“If they need to (go up to a librarian) randomly, they need courage … we are dismantling the fear for them to ask,” Coba said.
Ordonez said the 3D printer is new technology for most people and he only learned how to use it last year.
“(Patrons) are excited about it, especially the kids,” Ordonez said.
Coba said some students need the 3D printer while working on school projects. Professional projects are also printed in the library. Last Thursday, a set of 10 plastic key rings were being printed.
According to Coba, some projects can take up to six hours to print, but the printer can be cued for multiple jobs. Depending on the item’s size, the librarians can also combine print jobs so multiple projects can be printed at the same time.
The 3D printer’s use cost is based on weight, at 15 cents per gram. Software determines the weight in advance, so the customer knows the price before printing. Coba and Ordonez said they also know ways to modify a project to bring the cost down. For example, something could be printed hollow instead of solid.
“We have had a customer get quotes for something he needed displayed in an office for a couple hundred dollars,” Ordonez said. “Here it was $ 40.”
Coba said the library obtained the 3D printer before the pandemic, but during the branch’s closure it was sent to another county facility to print personal protective equipment, such as mask guards. It was returned a few months ago.
Burke said library patrons have asked her for assistance with various programs, such as downloading Libby, the app needed to borrow ebooks, audiobooks and magazines from the county library system.
“We help them download it to their phone or tablet,” she said.
Appointments for the 4S Ranch tech help desk are available in 15-minute slots from 3 to 4 pm each Tuesday, while drop-in slots are offered from 3 to 4 pm on Thursdays. The sign-up sheet is on the table next to the 3D printer or call 858-673-4697.
On the appointment sheet, patrons are to indicate if they are an adult, teen ages 13 to 17 or a child with a parent. They are also to note what type of help is needed, including the type of device, website, app, question or problem.
Burke said this information is requested so they can research the issue in advance in case it is something the trio is not familiar with, and they get the best librarian capable of working on the particular issue.
“Phil is good when it involves kids with parent assistance,” Burke said, adding Coba and Ordonez are also the most familiar with 3D printer needs.
The 4S Ranch Library is at 10433 Reserve Drive. Its current hours are 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays.