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Library Volunteer Helps with Computers, English

Jack Galuardi has been volunteering at the Potomac Library for about ten years.

Books are not the only resource the offers to the public; it also has volunteers such as Jack Galuardi, who assists visitors looking to learn how to operate a computer or improve their English.

"I just like to help people," said Galuardi, who has been a Potomac Library volunteer for about ten years.

Galuardi said his volunteering began soon after retiring from a career in engineering in 1994.

"I have always worked, so I looked for something to do," he said.

Galuardi said he used to come to the library to use the computers at a time when computers were still alien to many people. Because of his knowledge, the librarians asked him to help other visitors learn to use computers.

Galuardi said he still teaches basic computer functions such as creating email addresses, using Microsoft Word applications and surfing the web. His computer tutorial sessions are one on one and scheduled by an appointment.

While most young people are now raised on computers, there is still a need for Galuardi's services.

"I taught an 86-year-old lady to get on a computer," he said. "She now owns a computer and uses it."

Galuardi said he also teaches foreign visitors who were not raised with computers — people from places such as South Africa and Germany. The visitors are pleased to make contact with their home countries, said Galuardi, who has kept in touch with some of these people after they've returned home.

Galuardi also volunteers for the Conversation Club, where people from other countries meet to talk and improve their English. Galuardi said the club has brought many Asians, Latinos and Eastern Europeans to the Potomac Library.

The club, which meets every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., does not take attendance or require identification. It is an informal setting where people find common interests, read magazine articles to sharpen their comprehension and work on pronunciations.

"The purpose of [the club] is conversation. It is not to teach English," said Galuardi, who added the library has Literacy Council volunteers who provide English lessons.

Galuardi's knowledge makes him an asset to the library, said fellow Potomac Library volunteer, Valen Brown.

"Jack is the volunteer of all volunteers," Brown said. "He is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met."

Fellow volunteer Audrey Leslie has been a volunteer with the Conversation Club almost as long as Galuardi. After retiring as an English teacher, Leslie read about the club and thought it sounded like fun.

Leslie says Galuardi is a calm instructor who never loses his cool.

"He's been a wonderful mentor to all of us."

Potomac librarian Lindsey Hundt said Galuardi's contributions are seamless and he was awarded Volunteer of the Year in 1997 by the Friends of the Library.

"[Galuardi] is polite and courteous to the staff, does not interfere in branch operations and is truly dedicated to helping his students," Hundt said. "All of us enjoy working with him and are delighted that he has volunteered to help our customers in such important ways."

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