Computer Basics: Online and In Person

Introducing NorthStar

Build your digital skills and fluency with NorthStar, available for free at Howard County Library System.

Northstar: Digital Literacy Assessment logo, which includes a diamond with blue points on three sides, a yellow point at the top and a black N inside a white square.

NorthStar uses an assessment quiz to help you identify the areas where your skills are strong, as well as areas that need improvement. This easy-to-use resource can help bolster digital expertise for anyone who wants to learn fundamental skills or refresh and update existing skills.

NorthStar points you towards the classes on the platform that will help you with those skills. The classes cover everything from the basics (e.g., identify a mouse, power button, USB port) to more advanced skills like navigating Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, Google Docs, Job Search Skills, and even participating in Telehealth appointments.

A few things to know about NorthStar:

  • No HCLS library card is required to register a learner account on NorthStar.
  • You receive unique recommendations for classes based on their initial assessment.
  • These are self-directed online classes that can be taken from any location, so you can take classes at any library branch, from home, from work, or anywhere and on your own schedule.

If you need a computer or internet to access NorthStar, come to any HCLS branch. You can also borrow a Chromebook (a type of laptop) and a wi-fi hotspot (which provides internet access) from the library and take them home with you. For more information on how to borrow a Chromebook and wi-fi hotspot, visit or call your local branch.

Get started with NorthStar by visiting and creating a Learner Account. You will need an email address to get started.

If you would like some in-person help with digital skills, register for one of our computer clinics (listed below). Find the full schedule here:

Computer Skills Open Lab
If you’re looking to improve your computer skills, visit our computer skills open lab. Boost your technical knowledge by getting hands-on assistance with topics such as:

  • Basic computer skills
  • Using the internet
  • Setting up an email account
  • Creating and saving documents

We work with you at your skill level and provide information and guidance to develop the skills you are seeking or resolve the problem you are facing. Use our PC laptops and earbuds, or bring your own laptop and headphones. Bring your questions!

Tue, Jul 5 at 1 – 3 pm | East Columbia

Thu, Jul 21 at 10:30 am – 12:30 pm | Elkridge

Tue, Aug 2 at 10 am – 12 pm | East Columbia

Thu, Aug 18 at 10:30 am – 12:30 pm | Elkridge

Register for for any of these session at or call 410.313.7700.

Computer Basics
Wed, Jul 13 at 6:30 – 8:30 pm | Central Branch
Mon, Jul 25 at 2 – 4 pm | Savage Branch
Wed, Aug 10 at 6:30 – 8:30 pm | Central Branch
Mon Aug 22 at 2 – 4 pm | Savage Branch

New to using computers? This class introduces some basic computer terminology and takes you through practice activities, such as opening and saving files and folders, searching the internet, and creating an email account using Gmail. Use our PC laptops and earbuds, or bring your own laptop and headphones.

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