Library to play role in web safety program

Forbes Library is taking part in a national pilot program to help computer users to stay safe while online.

Forbes and other Central West Libraries are among 21 library services, or 106 branches, to take part in the national eSmart Libraries pilot, a joint initiative of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and Telstra.

Under the program, library staff are being trained on how to be cybersafe, skills they can then pass on to library users and the wider community to help protect them when shopping, banking and interacting online.

Forbes Shire Library’s Bronwyn Clark said library visitors are increasingly using the web, either for their studies, for work, for social interaction or when paying bills.

Ms Clark said library staff had started receiving training on how to use the most common technologies and websites, but were also gaining an awareness of problems and issues that can arise.

“There is a need for caution online to protect your personal information, your passwords and financial information, but also younger people and all people need to be aware that there are nefarious people online, whether it be people looking to steal your identity or sexual predators,” Ms Clark said.

“You hide your password when you are at the ATM, and you have to do the same when you are using a computer,” she said.

Protecting young people from bullying when using social media sites like facebook is one of the eSmart program’s top priorities.

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation says more than a quarter of young people (27 per cent) have been subjected to bullying every two weeks or more often, while cyberbullying has happened to every one in 10 Australian young people every few weeks.

“Cyber bullying is happening and this program is giving young people the tools to cope,” Ms Clark said.

Telstra Country Wide general manager for Western NSW, Scott Curtin, said Telstra was committed to rolling out the eSmart Libraries program.

“eSmart Libraries will be rolled out across Australia’s 1500 public libraries over the next six years. 

“It will give libraries and their members the opportunity to experience the social and economic benefits of new communications technologies whilst making the online library experience more inclusive and safer for everyone,” Mr Curtin said.

Central West Libraries manager Jan Richards said more than 52 per cent of Australians are library members and one of the most common tools they use is internet connected devices.

“Our library service strives to be at the forefront of innovation in terms of community access to digital technologies and we have been concerned with cybersafety for some time. 

“eSmart Libraries therefore fits with our core purpose and helps our users to be smart, safe and responsible online,” said Ms Richards.

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