Library tech guru Carlos Galeana provides one-on-one guidance
Want to Skype with your grandchildren? Can't figure out how to work the calendar on your new iPhone? Want to switch the language on your tablet to Vietnamese? Carlos can help with that.
Carlos Galeana is a regional technology coordinator for the Multnomah County Library and works in the four East Multnomah County branches. He develops and teaches classes on how to use the latest computer, tablet, e-reader and phone gizmos and will even give individual instruction, all for free.
He does that so well that he was just named one of the nation's library "Movers & Shakers" by the Library Journal. And, last year he was honored by Multnomah County with one of its rare 2016 Employee Awards.
"It's really humbling. I think it is a tremendous honor. It's really touching for me," Galeana said of his latest award. "It is really a celebration of the work of everyone at the library."
But, Jon Worona, director of digital strategies for the Multnomah County Library system, thinks Galeana is deserving. "He's doing great work. He is very approachable. He has that very human touch" with technology.
Galeana's fans are legion.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, he's a 20," said Fairview resident Vonitia Woolsey. She doesn't recall how she heard about Galeana, but the 80-year-old said, "I was having trouble with my Apple phone and he said 'I'm here to help you.'"
After getting Woolsey up to speed on her smartphone, the duo moved on to an autobiographical book Woolsey is writing and illustrating with photos. Galena has helped Woolsey with all the aspects of getting the book, "Route 66," on paper including finding and placing photographs. "He's absolutely fantastic, absolutely fantastic," she said. Woolsey especially admires his patience with the technologically challenged like herself. "He's very calm, very patient. He's just the top."
His Mover & Shaker nomination reinforced that. Galeana "offers an unparalleled mix of knowledge, skill, patience, intuition and an unassuming dedication to the people who are most in need of library service. Since his promotion into this role from that of library clerk, Carlos has helped over 750 patrons learn and navigate the complexities of technology."
Not just books anymore
Galeana is a key part of the overall strategy of the library. Multnomah County Library wants to be a vital and free source of reliable information for the public. It aims to deliver that information via the latest and most useful technology and also give folks information on how to use that technology.
The library also wants to make certain that everyone has access to technology. "The library has made technological inclusion and equity a priority," Worona said. Equity is particularly important in East Multnomah County with its pockets of poverty and high percentage of immigrants.
Some people need to improve their technology skills to get a job or a better job. Worona points out that many employers will only accept online applications, which require some computer expertise. Other clients are new to the country and need computer competence and access to establish themselves here. Older folks simply want to be able to communicate with family by text or email.
And for a number of homeless folks, the library's computers are a lifeline. All branches have wireless internet access.
Worona said the library decides on its tech offerings by asking patrons, "What do you need to accomplish in your life?"
Library clients at Galeana's four branches — Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale and Rockwood — are interested in mastering a wide variety of technology. Some want to know how to access all the new high-tech library offerings.
"Our e-book classes are popular. We try to offer a lot of those classes," Galeana said.
The library has had a lot of interest in its classes on Windows 10 and is beginning to offer classes on how to use a Mac. The library also offers classes in using email and word processing. The Rockwood Library's makerspace has lots of high tech gadgets and targets teens. Some classes are taught by volunteers. Galeana trains and supervises them.
Of course, Galeana and his colleagues have limits. They won't open or repair a device and they won't recommend particular products.
The father of two girls, Galeana grew up near downtown Los Angeles and moved to the Gresham-area in 2009 to be near his wife's family. He has a bachelor's degree in history and Spanish from California State University-Dominguez Hills.
Surprisingly, Galeana is largely self-taught in technology and computers. He admits he's only been really serious about computers for about a decade and learned his skills by talking with experts and watching videos online.
He does have teaching experience. He was a tutor and teaching assistant in a Los Angeles school and worked in two nonprofit organizations in Portland. He started at the library doing other jobs and applied for his current position when it was created.
The Gresham resident not only teaches the public, but he teaches library staff too. He also puts out an online newsletter for library workers to help them keep up with technology so they can help library patrons with technology questions too.
Galeana has a special touch. "Many patrons come to Carlos frustrated or fearful of technology. His ability to empathize and relate to their situation fosters learning," his nomination said.
Galeana said he tries to look at the whole person seeking help and assess their verbal and non-verbal cues. He wants them to know, "I'm honoring and respecting your life experience and concerns." He constantly alters his teaching style to fit the client's needs, he said.
He tries to teach using things everyone can relate to, such as asking students to search for the name of their favorite dish to get things started on using the internet. "You have to be nimble as an instructor."
Everyone has a different story. Galeana tells of one patron whose husband passed away. She relied on him for computer skills and was suddenly faced with not being able to use her iPad and computer. The woman soaked up new tech skills, became a bookkeeper and even taught herself Quickbooks, an accounting software program.
Another woman, Kathleen Nelson, told a City Club meeting recently that she had had a professional position but was out of the workforce for 15 years raising her family and could only find an entry level position with her lack of computer skills. After working with Galeana once a week for a year, "I received a significant promotion at work," she said. The woman now volunteers at the library with Galeana teaching computer beginners.
Worona wants to add to the ranks of technology specialists like Galeana so every library branch can offer these vital services. But, technology hasn't reached the point yet where they can clone Carlos Galeana.
Get in the fast lane of the information highway
The four East Multnomah County branches of the Multnomah County Library offer a wide variety of free classes in technology. The Rockwood makerspace also has high technology equipment such as 3D printers for people, especially teens, to use. Library patrons can also make an appointment to get free one-on-one help from tech guru Carlos Galeana.
Coming up at the Gresham, Fairview, Rockwood and Troutdale branches:
• Email Basics from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, April 25, at the Gresham Library, 385 N.W. Miller Ave. Registration is required for this free class which will cover how to set up an email account, how to send and reply to emails and precautions to stay safe. If possible, bring your mobile phone to class.
• Word Processing One from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the Troutdale Library, 2451 S.W. Cherry Park Road. Registration is required for this basic class on word processing that will teach students how to create a document, format, edit and save text.
• E-Books & Audiobooks from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the Fairview Library, 1520 N.E. Village St. No registration required for this seminar that will teach the basics of downloading and reading or listening to books on your electronic device. Bring your preferred gadget.
• iPad and iPhone Help from 3-5 p.m. Friday, April, 28, at the Gresham Library. No registration necessary to learn more about text messaging, taking and attaching photos, installing apps and using the Apple Store and more. Bring questions, library card information and your fully-charged device.
• Beat making for teens from 4-5:45 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the Rockwood Library, 17917 S.E. Stark St. Work with other teens in a fun game and the iPad app DM1 to create collaborative beats.
New at the "library"
The Multnomah County Library has lots of cool, and always free, offerings that can inform, inspire and excite.
Branches offer "Discovery Kits" for patrons ages 5-12 that focus on STEM (science, math, engineering and technology). Each one of these bags are themed and offer books and more to explore a STEM topic. The bird and animal watching kit provides binoculars plus books and other materials to observe local critters.
The library offers rich online options. Folks can now download books, magazines, audio books, movies and more without visiting a branch. Missed the movie "Imitation Game" or "The King's Speech" in the theater? Those are among the films you can stream from the comfort of your sofa from the library's Hoopla service, which allows each library patron to get eight movies a month. InstantFlix has more flicks to choose from and there is no limit.
Zinio allows readers to peruse magazines including "Rolling Stone" and "Us Weekly." Audio and e-books are also available to download.