Kyle Lee Sousa, full-time digital services librarian at Barrington Public Library, loves his career so much he allocates a lot of his free time juggling part-time gigs at the Tiverton and Portsmouth Public Libraries and Stonehill College Library in MA. His path to receiving a Masters in Library and Information Studies (MLS) from the University of Rhode Island in 2021 was not plotted overnight. Following his graduation from Eastern Nazarene College with a bachelor’s degree in music, Sousa spent over 10 years working a series of jobs, from restaurants and retail to the US Post Office, to save up enough money to pursue his MLS. As Sousa notes, local libraries are an integral resource to closing both an information and digital divide in communities.
GAME PLAN: The plan was always to be a librarian. I am a legacy librarian – my mother is a librarian at the War College, so I already knew about the discipline. My dad worked for the US Post Office, so I kind of tried out both of their jobs. I was able to do the URI program online, which allowed me to work at other libraries part time while taking classes.
TECHIES NEEDED: I have been working in libraries since 2018; some places have a position with the title “digital services” and some places don’t, but it seems all libraries have use for someone with those skills. Even if it isn’t a position, per se, there’s always interest in someone who is technology forward. I’m of the generation that had the record player, CD player, and tape player. I grew up analog and switched to digital, so I’m accustomed to adapting to technology.
MUSCLE MEMORY: Everyone’s generally adept at something; it just might not be their phone and they get frustrated with it. I played the saxophone for years, and if I go to play saxophone now it’s squeaky. I play piano or keyboard more often, so I’m more ready to play those; my hands and my mind are closer aligned with them. I relate it to that for people who come for Tech Class or Tech Help. You need to get your hands on the device, and once you play with it, you will feel better about it, it will come quicker to you.
LIFELONG LEARNING: The most popular class is for iPhone and then using Microsoft, Word, Google, Google Docs, and Gmail. Some classes are an intersection of a topic and how you can utilize apps to help you meditate, or learn about mindful wellness or cannabis. Since cannabis is now legal in Rhode Island, I thought that might be useful for people who don’t know anything about it and didn’t know where to go for information.
GENERATION DIVIDE: As a kid or as a parent of a kid, you’re in the library a lot. After that, many adults are busy and don’t come through the building for a while. When they retire, they’re looking to make use of the time they now have. We are getting to a point where the expectations for people to know technology keeps increasing so it is more and more important for libraries to provide Tech Help Services.
KNOWLEDGE NETWORK: I think the mission of libraries is access to information – it could be education, entertainment, or enrichment. It’s also access to the community itself, bringing people together, and access even to things that people don’t have like a computer or a board game, or collections of books for reading literacy and classes for technology literacy. The more that people are able to use their devices and are able to read is in the best interest of the community.
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