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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government

Volume V, Issue 5 May 2002


Free Computer Classes

By Elaine C. Stanley

The Maine State Library is offering free computer classes to the public (including State employees) using its new computer lab as a classroom. The current series of classes provides training in searching the World Wide Web.

In early March, an e-mail announcing free computer classes appeared on State employees’ computers and the Maine State Library was immediately overwhelmed with calls. Within two hours all available spaces in the first four sessions were filled, so more sessions were scheduled. These were quickly filled to capacity, too. By the end of March, over two hundred people had come to these workshops!

These free computer classes use the Library’s new computer lab as a classroom. (See the December 2001 article "Wireless in the Training Lab" for more information on the Lab The current series of five classes details approaches to effectively searching the World Wide Web using subject lists, search engines, and portals. It also includes a class on evaluating web sites after they’re located. Specific sessions are titled: "It A-Mazes Me" (using subject lists), "Of Spiders and Webs" (using search engines), "Open Sesame" (using portals), "There’s a Needle Somewhere in that Haystack" (efficient searching), and "Treasures or Trash" (evaluating web sites). These classes are repeated many times over a few weeks, prior to the next class being introduced. This is not the last time these workshops will be offered, however. They will be repeated in the future, but on a less frequent schedule.

The schedule for these classes can be found at the Maine State Library Web site at (click on "Courses offered to the public"). Classes will always be announced on this site, rather than via e-mail. There will also be posters and fliers at the Library.

If you wish to register for a particular workshop, call 287-5602 and ask for Sue Q. It is not necessary to take all of the five classes in the current series, nor do they have to be taken in order (although there is logic to the sequence). You may take them as often as you desire. Later in the summer or in early fall, these classes will also be offered together as a full-day training experience.

Two other classes that will also be offered are "Introduction to Personal Computers" and "What is the Internet". Both of these are described in further detail on the Web site. Future classes could include instruction in using the Maine State Library catalog (URSUS), searching on-line databases that are available for free to all Maine residents, and accessing e-books. For more information on these free databases, see the article published in January’s newsletter, entitled "On-Line Periodical and Reference Databases Available to All" ( written by Linda Lord.

These free classes are available to everyone! Some state employees have come with their spouses or their parents, while others have sent neighbors and friends. Please feel free to share the news of these workshops with anyone you think might be interested.

Questions? Comments? Contact the author via e-mail at Elaine is a graduate of the University of Maine, and earned her MLS (Masters in Library Science) from Clarion University. Her first career was as an elementary school teacher. She joined the reference staff of the Maine State Library in the fall of 1982, and was the State Documents Librarian for over 15 years. Currently, Elaine is the coordinator of Reference Services and the primary public trainer in the computer lab. She is also a member of the State Archives Advisory Board.

Elaine lives in Readfield with her husband, John, who has worked for the Department of Transportation for over 25 years.


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