A new digital literacy program in Baltimore County Public Library will help residents learn a range of basic computer skills, to include essential software skills in Microsoft Office. (By Surface courtesy of Unsplash)

By Special to the AFRO

Baltimore County Public Library has launched Northstar Digital Literacy, a free, online, self-paced program that teaches participants basic computer skills. Participants can learn about the online tools needed for success in daily life, employment, and education. Areas of learning include essential computer skills, essential software skills like Microsoft Office, and how to use technology in daily life including job search skills. 

“Today’s library is a community learning hub providing opportunities for self-development to customers of all ages, needs, and abilities,” said Library Director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, in a statement. “Our strategic plan outlines our commitment to teaching digital, financial, and health literacy making us a natural fit to partner with Maryland State Library and IMLS to launch this program. We are pleased to offer this expanded service to our customers.” 

To participate, customers are encouraged to take an online literary assessment to gauge their skill level. This test can be taken independently on our website at bcpl.info or proctored at the North Point, Randallstown, or Towson branches. 

After an initial assessment, each customer receives a recommended curriculum to explore more advanced training, certifications, or career pathways. This content can be accessed online with customer’s technology, by borrowing a Chromebook and hotspot from the library, or by visiting any of our 19 branches to use a public computer. 

Completion of each class earns customers a badge online or a certificate through proctored sessions at the branches listed above. These badges and certificates can be empowering and help to improve lives for many including those formerly incarcerated, stay-at-home parents who are going back to the workforce, or older adults re-entering the job market. 

Baltimore County Public Library was chosen by the State of Maryland Library to pilot this program with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

To learn more about the Northstar Digital Literacy Program, visit bcpl.info/services/digital-literacy.html 

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