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Free computer classes back

The Halifax County/South Boston Public Libraries began offering free computer classes in the summer of 2011, but unfortunately they came to a halt following the resignation of the former branch manager in August. 

After Branch Manager Chris Thompson began his position on Dec. 2, he vowed to see classes offered at the libraries continue and possibly expand.

His promise became a reality when the Halifax County-South Boston Library Board used the remaining $3,300 of the Library System’s Messay Grant to purchase five Lenovo laptops with Microsoft Office and three tablets. 

Even though Halifax County High School offers computer classes to its students, Thompson recognized a demand exists for adults who did not have the opportunity to have these classes to learn these programs. 

 “There are those who come in because they need to learn Excel or Word for this current job or for a job they hope to apply for. Others have home projects that they’d like to use the programs for,” said Thompson. 

The branch manager has taught beginner classes for the following Microsoft Office programs, Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as beginner Internet classes. 

The classes are usually taught on the second and fourth Mondays at the Halifax County Public Library and on the first and third Thursdays at the South Boston Public Library, at either 10 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. 

For a full schedule and to sign up, interested persons can go to to see their upcoming events calendar.   

Interested persons must sign up in order to be guaranteed a spot in the classes, which are limited to five students. 

He or she also may sign up in person at either the Halifax County Public Library or the South Boston Public Library. 

If a person wants to sign up for a class that is full, he or she is welcome to join a waiting list to see if a spot becomes available. 

Thompson encourages anyone who is interested to join the class and said there are learners at all stages in each one. 

“If there is anyone who is hesitant about coming because they may be embarrassed because of their lack of knowledge, there is no reason to be,” said Thompson.

“Everyone is here because they need to learn about the programs, some more than others. There are people who come here who know more, and others who are opening the program for the first time.” 

In the classroom, Thompson enjoys the small class size because it offers him the ability to cater to “any need or whim” of these learners. 

At each class, students are encouraged to talk to Thompson to explain what they would like to get out of the class and their reasoning for attending. 

“I tend to ask them if they need this for a job or what have you. Some people come in here with a specific aspect of the program that they need taught to them, and I’ll show that person,” said Thompson. 

During the class, each program is projected on a screen for the students, and Thompson shows them step-by-step instructions for using certain tools. 

The students are encouraged to follow along on their laptops and should ask questions. 

These questions allow for a different learning experience at each class. 

“Usually we’ll get on one subject because of a question, and that’ll lead to another question. So each question leads to me teaching something different,” said Thompson. 

Next month, Thompson hopes to begin a set of intermediate classes because students have expressed interest in continuing learning more about the programs. 

These classes should be more hands-on. Thompson plans to send an assignment for each student to do before class.

“They will then bring what they completed to class, and we will go over how they reached that point, if that was the easiest way, and I’ll answer any questions they may have,” said Thompson. 

Two more classes will be taught this month. 

Beginner’s Internet will be taught March 19 at 10 a.m. at the South Boston Public Library. 

This class will teach the fundamentals of using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for browsing websites, checking email, filling out forms and other common tasks on the Internet.  It is recommended for those who are comfortable using a computer but are new to the Internet.

A new class on Microsoft Publisher will be taught March 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Halifax County Public Library. 

This class will teach the fundamentals of using Microsoft Publisher, a desktop publishing program and is useful for those who wish to design flyers, booklets, business cards and other documents with a professional layout.

Thompson hopes to expand the classes starting in April by offering classes on how to use the tablets.  

Interested persons are encouraged to keep a check on the library’s website for upcoming classes in April.