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Tuesday, April 24 News

In a tech tangle? Westport Library gadget gurus can help

Ever get a digital or high tech gadget or gizmo as a gift, or bought one for yourself, and then realized you don't have a clue how it works?

Well, not to worry. The Westport Library offers Drop-In Tech Help twice a week for those needing advice or training regarding their e-reader, iPad, iPhone or tablet.

The help is offered by the library's technical support team, free of charge, at the Tech Help table in the library's Great Hall.

Aire Salmre was seeking help recently from Jun Pritsker, a tech assistant, on how to work the Windows Surface Pro she received from her daughter-in-law for Christmas.

"She works for a company associated with Microsoft," Salmre, a Norwalk resident, explained. "She got three of them and gave one to me."

Susan Miller of Westport was also recently sought help with her computer. "I do come here a lot," she admitted. "I always have questions."

Maxine Bleiweis, the library director, said there routinely has been a staff member at the tech help desk available to help people with questions whenever the library is open.

But the designated hours for the Drop-In Tech Help sessions -- Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m. -- started about a year and a half ago.

"It's having extra help where people can bring in their devices that is newer," she said. "Our aim is to be the go-to place for digital literacy."

Bleiweis said it makes sense for the library to offer that type of service.

"Libraries have always assisted in getting information," she said. "Now it is often the device rather than the language that's presenting a barrier."

She said the Drop-In Tech Help at the library is "similar to an Apple genius bar right here in Westport."

Bleiweis said the library launched the service with one afternoon weekly. "When the waiting time got too long, a library patron offered to underwrite a second day of service," she said.

Bleiweis said library officials see an uptick in the need for help after every holiday when people often receive new technology as gifts.

Shortly after Christmas, Haseeb Khan, a library tech assistant, said they were seeing about 10 people at each session.

"They come in with all types of devices," he said. "Sometimes they are newly purchased and haven't even taken them out of the box."

Khan said most of the problems are just basic issues, like downloading e-books and getting email on their tablets and iPhones.

"Sometimes they get locked out of their device and don't know how to reset it," he said.

For more information, check here: http://bit.ly/1i4rSLC