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iPad Buddy Program fosters digital connection

For Adelaide resident Sue Gilbey, having access to homebound library services like the [iPad Buddy Program](, is as much about maintaining a social connection with the outside world, as it is about learning new skills.

“I think it’s very easy when people have limited mobility to just watch TV and not do much else, but there is a whole big, wide, world out there that you can actually feel connected with through the internet,” she said

Gilbey was one of the first to participate in the council’s iPad Buddy Program earlier this year; where volunteers were paired with the library’s homebound clients and taught how to use an iPad, download electronic-books and interactive apps.

Gilbey said she was so enamoured with the iPad, that she bought her own.

iPad Buddy volunteer, Tom Whittney, said Gilbey went from being able to browse the internet, to using specialised audio editing apps, games, Skype, Twitter and Facebook.

He said teaching people how to use the iPad and access the library’s e-book collection gave him “a buzz.”

“Generally a lot of the clients I get are middle aged or senior citizens and they buy a new iPhone or an iPad so that they can communicate with their grandkids.

“I really just try and help facilitate a bit of learning, so that they can interact with their family.

“It’s just about that whole teaching stuff - teaching people to learn about their devices - and it just makes me feel good,” Whittney said.

Adelaide City Council homebound library coordinator, Marianne Beauchamp, said in the past six months 17 people had been involved in the program and three people had bought their own iPad as a result.

Beauchamp said the iPad Buddy Program had generated interest from another council in Western Australia.

“People are hearing about the program nationally,” she said.

“I had a call from a lady that worked for a council in Perth; wanting to pick my brain about the program and learn from us, she said.

Bridging the digital divide.

As the National Broadband Network rolls out across Adelaide, there has never been a better time to bridge the digital divide in our community.

In partnership with the Australian Government, Council will be opening a Digital Hub in December, where people can learn how to use computers and the internet to email, bank online, set up a social media account, Skype and utilise the capabilities of smart phones and tablets.

The Digital Hub- located in the Grote Street Library - will also provide training for businesses wanting to boost their operations through digital technology.

We need volunteers.

Volunteers will be an integral part of the training provided at the Digital Hub. To find out more about how you can get involved, and share your digital skills with the community, call Council’s Community Development Officer on 8203 7125.

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