Marketing and Innovation awards 2012 Submitted by Torfaen Libraries Digital Literacy Development by Stealth

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Marketing and Innovation awards 2012
Submitted by Torfaen Libraries
Digital Literacy Development by Stealth

  1. We have been running our own version of computer classes under the name of ‘Computer drop-in Taster Sessions’ since 2007. These are informal, relaxed and friendly computer lessons intended for any adult customer. The aim is to target specific requirements and requests, which makes them very popular with our customers who mostly only want to learn how to access the internet and do not wish to attend courses which cover the full range of applications. They are open-ended and because there is no strict timetable of

pre-determined lesson plans learning is encouraged at each customers individual pace.

  1. Previous requests for specific learning has mostly included how to use the internet, setting up and using an email account and using Microsoft Word to create C.V.s. The audience is mainly elderly, but not exclusively. By targeting specific customer needs we are able to provide a dedicated service delivering direct and relevant training.

  1. The success of these sessions has led to an expansion into other services. We have integrated the BBC First Click campaign into our sessions, which has allowed us to provide more lessons. We have also worked in partnership with the job-centre, providing sessions dedicated to job-seeking skills, and these are manned by staff from the employment Services. We are now also working in collaboration with Learn Direct, providing online educational courses in a range of subjects covering basic skills up to more advanced levels.

  1. Another successful spin-off is the Family History Sessions run in Blaenavon Branch Library, which is an ideal location to run family history sessions. The World Heritage area is steeped its own history and that of the local people. We have been offering family history research to our customers for just over a year. The weekly sessions are jointly run by library staff and volunteers from Blaenavon Museum. This partnership is working very well and is mutually beneficial as it raises awareness of each of our services to a new group of people.

The museum staff have experience working with local records, including churches, cemeteries, schools, mines and more. They have a huge numbers of records at their disposal which all adds to the experience of our customers. The library can offer this great service, only with the support of the museum. By the same token it is helpful to the museum staff to bring their service to a wider audience and use our facilities.

Using the library’s computer suite allows people the space to work, access the internet including a free version of Find My Past which contains Birth, Marriage and Death records, census from 1841 to 1911 and many more local and unusual records. We also have a large collection of books and magazines related to searching for ancestors.
We encourage the customers to carry out their own research with guidance and support from staff. If people come along who lack confidence using a PC, we invite them to join our IT drop-in classes too.
The only cost implication to running these sessions is that of marketing. We keep this to a minimum by sharing the cost of printing flyers. We are mentioned regularly in the local newspaper, council website and the library Facebook and Twitter pages. We run occasional taster days in our other libraries to help promote the project.
The project is proving to be popular with our customers and will continue to run as long as our partnership with the museum exists. We have plans for permanent displays of museum items and records within the library to build on our already strong links.
Family History research is very popular at the moment. There are television programmes, books and magazines to encourage people to find their ancestors. The research sessions we offer are reacting to this interest and we plan to continue for a long time to come.

  1. These schemes allow us to attract both regular users of the library to the electronic environment that modern libraries are now encompassing, and also many new customers new to the library altogether who have heard of the lessons and events by word of mouth.

  1. We no longer need to promote the drop-in sessions due to their extreme popularity - there is currently an extensive waiting list. Feedback is always positive, but we also like to encourage constructive comments, allowing us to develop and refine the sessions to best serve the customers requirements.

  1. All of our sessions ensure the most effective use of our PC’s, and all sessions are currently deliverable within available staff resources and time. There is potential to expand due to demand, but this cannot be achieved without increased staffing.

  1. The projects are fully sustainable, and we anticipate the demand to increase as the customer base gradually changes. There is ever greater need for an online presence, and as the recession drives more people into libraries to use the free resources we can only envisage increasing demand for all of the services we offer.


  • Demonstrate to existing customers that libraries have much to offer in the electronic environment. We have been able to highlight our free on-line resources and introduce the new e-Books service as well as increase the digital literacy skills of our customers.

  • Reach out to new customers through in-demand services – using computers, family history, job-seeking and educational resources.

  • The key aim is to highlight that libraries have a great deal to offer, other than the traditional book-lending image that appears to prevail, and to raise digital literacy skills by utilising computers to meet customers’ requirements.

Partnership Working

  • BBC First Click

  • Bridges Into Work

  • Learndirect

  • Blaenavon Museum


  • The Computer Drop-in and BBC First Click Sessions have spread by word of mouth and are heavily over-subscribed. We therefore no longer promote these.

  • Other events are promoted using Torfaen’s internal and external websites.

  • Internal and external social media websites such as Facebook Twitter and Blogging.

  • Local press – the South Wales Argus and Torfaen Talks.

  • In-house promotional posters, leaflets and flyers.


  • All events are well attended.

  • Previous comments for drop-in sessions include:

“I would like to say how much I appreciate the computer drop-in sessions…As an OAP this one-to-one help and advice has helped me enormously. I am now so much more confident using the internet, e-mailing and generally for letter-writing and business dealings”.

“I could do nothing without their help. Every question has been answered. I would have been completely lost without the liberys (sic) help”.
“1. Friendly and informal atmosphere

2. Patience and understanding of teaching staff”

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