THE James Joyce library will launch a new initiative to help advance digital literacy in the Dublin community. Starting in February, the library will launch a pilot programme that pairs students with elderly individuals to teach digital and technology skills.

The programme will allow volunteers to use their IT knowledge to teach elderly individuals in the community how to use computers, phones, iPads, and other kinds of technology. The class is free for the learners and will consist of either four hour-and-a-half classes or six-hour long classes.

Carmel O’Sullivan in Planning and Administration for the James Joyce library has been heading up the program: “I had read something in one of the student newspapers… that basically there’s a shortage of volunteering opportunities for students and that students would like to have volunteering opportunities,” O’Sullivan said. “I remembered that and I thought… this might be a good thing for students to have on their CVs and be able to say they were involved.”

The February program aims to cater to about 10 elderly learners, with 10 student volunteers to pair with the learners on a one-to-one basis. Because of the new nature of the programme, O’Sullivan said that if there is sufficient interest, the library may look at creating additional classes.

Rosalind Pan, head of outreach for the library, notes that this will be a learning opportunity for UCD students as well. “They have to learn to deal with a range of personalities and they have to get up to speed pretty quickly and not everybody’s going to be using their grammar,” Pan said. “I think it’s interesting because they don’t quite know who they’re going to get.”

These classes are in conjunction with the 121digital scheme. Headed by Fintan Mulligan, the program began in 2010 to teach individuals in Ireland technology skills. The programme receives some funding from the Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources to assist with the National Digital Strategy. Mulligan provides training to all the volunteer teachers and will train James Joyce library staff and the 10 students who volunteer as tutors.

“Our library strategy as well is to engage with the community because that’s the university strategy for attracting students,” O’Sullivan said.

UCD Volunteers Overseas hosts a similar programme through 121digital, but while these classes are offered during the day, the James Joyce library will give classes in the evening, when student use of the library is lower.

Students who wish to volunteer for the classes should look out for a call later in the semester and next year.

Students can contact the 121digital programme at 121digital@ucd.ie.