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TRL developing a long-range plan for the days ahead

As I begin writing this, the sun is shining, and the forecast is calling for temperatures possibly into the 70s, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. I would like to be outdoors, but I have something I want to share with you, and it’s important enough to give up a some “sun time.”

What I want to share, much of which I learned last Saturday, is also not the topic I’d planned for this particular column, but it’s exciting and some of it is so new that you don’t necessarily have to be technologically challenged, like I am, not to know it yet.

I’ve written in the past about the great resource our Timberland libraries are, and one of my columns also addressed “Friends” of the library groups in East Grays Harbor County. As a member of the Elma Friends of the Library, I attended Timberland Regional Library’s Friends and Boards Forum 2014 on Saturday, April 5, at the Shelton Civic Center.

Besides being treated to lunch and snacks, the forum offered an opportunity to hear from Cheryl Heywood, Timberland’s library director, and Bob Hall, its board president, on what Timberland has been doing, as well as that its currently developing a long-range plan for the days ahead.

We were also asked for our input regarding how libraries might better meet the needs of those they serve, especially in the area of services to young people.

Informative keynote speaker, Alex Alben, a New York City native who now lives in the Seattle area and is known for his technology expertise, told us how digital progress has changed the way we communicate, especially through media and politics. Interestingly, Alben, later the author of “Analog Days: How Technology Rewrote Our Future,” as well as a comedy spy novel, earned a degree from Stanford University Law School and began his career in the 1980s as a research assistant for the well-known anchorman, Walter Cronkite of CBS Evening News.

Alben’s digital acumen was a large part of his work as an executive for RealNetworks, Inc., then the Starwave Corporation.

The forum also offered a choice of morning and afternoon workshops. I attended the “Friends Group Toolkit,” by Teresa Glidden of the Office of the Secretary of State. Glidden helped shore up our knowledge regarding “charities” and “non-profits,” not necessarily the same.

And though I make no claim to being a “techie,” the afternoon session I attended, “What’s New at TRL: Hoopla, Microsoft IT Academy, Freegal and more,” by Gwen Culp, with input also from Heywood, was an eye-opener about the myriad offerings available through Timberland’s website.

Maybe you already knew this, but I learned that the free Microsoft IT Academy offers self-paced classes in (very) basic digital literacy — like what’s a mouse; specific Microsoft Office skills and advanced skills for pros. It’s also possible for folks completing the courses to receive Microsoft certification, though there’s a cost for that service, and the applicant must travel to a geographical site.

So, whether you’re a newbie to the “digital” world and just want to learn about it in the privacy of your home (without risking the incredulity of others who think you should already know all about it), or you want/need to update your job skills, click the Research button at the top of the website.

That’s where you’ll also find “Learn4Life — Online Learning,” which includes six-week instructor-led online courses in such subjects as accounting, finance, business, computer applications law, technology, writing and more. You can also find magazines and newspapers, Internet resources, homework help and more.

Timberland’s new digital media service, Hoopla, makes music, movies, TV shows and audio books available for checkout through your library card. Instructions for using it are also available on the website. Find Hoopla and other services by clicking on the Library Collections button on the site. There’s also lots yet to come from Timberland, including Zinio Digital Magazines in June. Moreover, I’ve only touched on a few of the website’s highlights — no way there’s enough room in this space even to mention everything that’s available, including upcoming events at the 27 libraries in Timberland’s five-county region.

The only way you can do that is by checking the website out for yourself at www.trl.org.