Grow with Google plants workshop in Des Moines

Grow with Google, the tech giant’s initiative to bring digital literacy workshops to students, small businesses and job seekers nationwide, will be planting itself in the Des Moines Public Library system on Monday, April 15. 

From 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Central Library will host four free workshops for registered participants, and staff “Googlers” will be available for 1:1 coaching sessions all day for Iowans with personal business questions or seeking assistance on using Google’s G Suite tools. Registration for the 1:1 sessions is available the day of the event. 

Google announced plans to bring the initiative to all 50 states in November 2018, and told the Des Moines Public Library system it intended to visit Iowa early on, said Tim Paluch, community engagement supervisor at the library. 

“We’ve been excited about it the whole time,” Paluch said. “They’re bringing trucks [of] tables and chairs, equipment and everything. It’s going to feel like Google, but it’s in the library and advances one of our missions as well.” 

One of the first sessions in the morning will be aimed at library employees and nonprofits who are already teaching community members necessary digital literacy skills, Paluch said. The schedule, available online, includes two sessions dedicated to business owners and one session dedicated to job seekers. Each session can fit about 100 participants, and registrations are still being accepted for the event. 

The Des Moines Public Library system has held its own programming for community members seeking to expand digital skills.

“We hope we can also learn things that will allow us to evolve some of our programming in our teachings as well,” Paluch said. 

The North Side Library has held a weekly computer skills class since June 2017. That class teaches skills such as setting up an email account for individuals and families, effectively searching the internet, developing a resume and finding jobs online, and many participants have learned English as a second language. The Central Library began its weekly computer skills class, taught by employees of the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, in January. 

Library patrons can also schedule 1:1 sessions with Des Moines librarians to learn how to seek out and apply for grants or seek advice on digital job searches. Des Moines libraries also host Girls Who Code and other coding education programs, and the North Side Library rents laptops out to patrons. 

“We want to provide these sort of skills to the community. We recognize how important that is, especially when it comes to the careers and work [of] the modern society we live in,” Paluch said.