Digital experiences can be eyeopening or exasperating, but funding from the New Zealand Libraries Partnership Programme is helping people across Central Otago feel more confident navigating online resources.

The National Library was provided with a funding package of $58.8 million by the Government to to lead and support Covid-19 recovery work.

This programme has enabled the Central Otago District Council to employ librarians Emma McLean, of Alexandra, and Aurora Schmale, of Cromwell, on fixed-term contracts until June next year.

The pair are assisting people to expand their digital skills and learn about library resources which can be accessed from home.

Emma McLean is based at the Alexandra library and has been offering digital drop-in sessions for people needing help with their devices.

This could be older people who had been given a phone by family but were not confident using it.

She was also helping people use the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes library app which includes a free collection of documentaries, movies and television programmes, a range of electronic books and audiobooks, lessons for more than 70 languages and animated talking books for children, she said.

With support from Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme, she is also helping run a programme called Stepping Up, to help people understand the basics of computers, including email and the internet.

This takes place at the community learning hub at Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery, in Centennial Ave.

Aurora Schmale is based at Cromwell Library and has been focusing on community engagement, including visits to schools and creating and hosting programmes.

An example is a free photography and wellbeing workshop for youth aged 10 to 22, to run at the Maniototo Library on April 30 from 4pm-6pm, and at Cromwell library on May 1 from 10am-3pm.

Another resource coming to the region is a mobile learning centre called Dora (Digital On-Road Access), visiting Central Otago from April 12 to April 23.

This is focused on digital banking, helping people use phones and the internet for their banking.

—To register interest for free courses on computing and digital banking visit or phone (03) 448-9412.