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Recent News
Seniors Learn How to Use the Internet, Stay Connected at Library’s Free ‘Senior Surf Day’ Classes
Senior Surf Day” summer classes begin in June at Hennepin County libraries. These free hands-on classes teach seniors computer basics, including searching the Internet. “Senior Surf Day” is presented in collaboration with the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging. Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging staff and Senior LinkAge Line® volunteers teach the classes.
Marilyn Theesfeld of the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging trains volunteers who teach “Senior Surf Day” and has taught more than 100 classes in the seven-county metro area. She says the classes fill a vital need.
“Most of the volunteer instructors are savvy younger seniors,” Theesfeld said. “They know there is so much frustration on the part of elders who are now required to use the Internet to access information and get connected to organizations, banks, and government agencies.” She said information about savings bonds, for example, is now available only online.
Seniors gain more than learning how to access information by attending the classes. “It’s very affirming to seniors that they can learn something new, boost their self-esteem, and feel connected to the younger generation,” Theesfeld said.
Surveys of participants after the classes indicate that 96 percent have a better understanding of computers and 94 percent are more likely to use a computer as a result of the classes, said Joy Vliem, volunteer coordinator at the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging.
Seniors learn the basic parts of a computer (such as a CD drive and mouse), practice connecting to the Internet, use a URL and search engine, and access www.medicare.gov to learn how to find resources online and to learn about secure websites. They also learn about www.minnesotahelp.info, a database created by the Minnesota Board on Aging that has more than 730,000 resources for seniors, such as information about transportation, personal care attendants, and services for seniors.
By the time seniors leave the two-hour class, they can search the Internet on topics that interest them — from travel, social activities and gardening to cooking and legal issues. Theesfeld said many men are also interested in car websites. She also recalled a woman who played the accordion and wanted to share her music with a grandchild far away. The woman was thrilled to learn she could perform live for her grandchild by downloading Skype.
“Some of the seniors are lonely and enjoy games, such as solitaire, poker and battleship,” Theesfeld said. “All are 60 and older, some even in their late eighties. They are curious, interested in learning, want to stay connected, want to get on Facebook and see what the grandchildren are doing, see pictures of graduations, or connect to old friends.”
They are delighted to learn that there is not just one way to search for something on the Internet. And they want to learn more, such as how to use email, create greeting cards or write their life story.
“Senior Surf Day” is free and requires registration in advance.
Hennepin County Library has many other resources for seniors age 55+, including a “First Fridays: Diabetes Support Group,” book clubs for 55+, health insurance counseling for seniors, digital photography for seniors, memoir writing, databases and selected websites organized by subjects such as genealogy, BookSpace pages for engaged readers and more.
For more information, go online to www.hclib.org. For events, click on Events & Classes at the top of the page. You can search for events grouped by age level by clicking on 55+. Or contact Hennepin County Library’s Ask Us service for more information. Connect with staff in person, by phone (612-543-5669), or online by email, IM chat and text.
“Senior Surf Day” summer classes:

Brookdale Library
Wednesday, June 12, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 23, 1–3 p.m.
Registration required, begins May 15. Register online or call 612-543-5600.

Sumner Library
Wednesday, June 19, 1–3 p.m.
Registration required, begins May 22. Register online or call 612-543-6875.

Northeast Library
Thursday, June 20, 10a.m.–noon
Registration required, begins May 23. Register online or call 612-543-6775.

Rockford Road Library
Thursday, June 20, 10 a.m. – noon
Thursday, July 18, 10 a.m. – noon
Thursday, Aug. 15, 10 a.m. – noon
Registration required, begins May 23. Register online or call 612-543-5875.

Brooklyn Park Library
Thursday, June 27, 9–11 a.m.
Thursday, Aug. 8, 9–11 a.m.
Registration required, begins May 30. Register online or call 612-543-6225.

Maple Grove Library
Wednesday, July 24, 10:30a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Registration required, begins June 26. Register online or call 612-543-6450.

Westonka Library
Thursday, July 25, 10a.m. – noon
Registration required, begins June 27. Register online or call 612-543-6175.

Golden Valley Library
Thursday, July 25, 9–11 a.m.
Registration required, begins June 27. Register online or call 612-543-6375.
Northeast Library
Thursday, Aug. 8, 10 a.m.-noon.
Registration required, begins July 11. Register online or call 612-543-6775.
Webber Park Library
Thursday, Aug. 8, 1-3 p.m.
Registration required, begins July 11. Register online or call 612-543-6750.

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