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GC Top Public Servant: Katherine Henley

July 25, 2012 at 2:25 a.m.

Katherine Henley Training Services Manager at the Victoria Public Library trains with the most popular electronic devices from the Nook to laptops.

Story by Jessica Rodrigo/jrodrigo@vicad.com

Within the past few years, technology has changed the way many of us conduct business and relay information between one another.

Katherine Henley has been essential to the transition from traditional to interactive communication in Victoria. She works for the Victoria Public Library and is in charge of training the public on software and computer basics.

When Henley started in 1997 as the head of circulation, she said things were different.

"Libraries have always been about equal access to information, that used to mean books and magazines and now it means access to the technology," she said.

As things move beyond paper formats, people need access to the Internet to search for jobs or documents including IRS forms or bank statements.

Henley's favorite thing about working with the public is helping people find jobs and teaching them how to send email to family members.

She says her biggest challenge is making the adjustment to the technology. One of the most recent additions to the Victoria Public Library's arsenal of classes available free to the public is the Downloadable Boot Camp, which has become very popular.

Melissa Roth nominated Henley as a top public servant for her knowledge of e-readers.

"She is a resident e-reader 'expert,' and has provided hours of free training to the public on how to read library e-books on the various types of readers available," Roth explained.

Henley said a lot of her students received e-readers last year and were interested in using them to borrow books from the library. First, she had to learn how to use the different devices, from the Nook to the Kindle, and tablet applications that allow people to read e-books.

"It's constant, just when you learn something, it changes," she said. "You always want to be a step ahead."

With years of experience helping adults adjust to the trends of technology, Henley has seen what kind of stress computers will put on her students. She brings a hammer and an unopened can of soda with her to class to ease their worries.

"The only way you are going to hurt your computer is if you use hammer or you pour a coke on it. Other than that, I am not worried," she says to her introductory class. "That usually gets a laugh out of them and helps get them more comfortable with the computers."

Henley also maintains a partnership with the Victoria Workforce Center training adult students on computer techniques from the basics of using a mouse to more complex operations.

"Being a librarian is a feel-good job," she said. "I love helping people."

What are three things on your workspace that you couldn't do your job without?

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