I received this email from the fabulous Bobbi Newman on the ALA Council Listserv about today’s FCC announcement regarding broadband adoption that highlights the role of libraries now and in the future. Bobbi wrote up a fantastic (and analytical) post about it already so I’ll just highlight the part that is about libraries so you don’t have to read the whole thing. Here is the part most related to libraries;
For millions of Americans, libraries are the only place where they can get online. For millions more, libraries are an important complement to at-home connectivity, and they remain, as they always have been, a trusted resource in communities.
During the day, libraries have become job centers and librarians career counselors – and after school a place where many students go to do homework online. Last year, more than 30 million Americans used library connections to seek and apply for jobs, and 12 million children used them to do homework. Millions of others are using library connections for health information. Many – but not enough – of America’s 16,000 public libraries have become vital centers for digital literacy.
Librarians are helping meet some of the vast need — and I applaud them. But according to a recent Gates Foundation-funded survey, only 38% of all libraries offer a basic digital literacy class. In rural areas, in places like West Virginia, it’s only 25% of libraries. That’s a big missed opportunity. We should aim to double those numbers.
The E-Rate program – one of our most successful programs – connects schools and libraries to the Internet. Senator Jay Rockefeller, the great champion of E-Rate who, along with Senator Olympia Snowe and others, created the program, once said, “Our classrooms and our libraries are often the only way that our children and citizens can tap into the wonders of computers and the links to a vast world of information and knowledge. We want schools to be a place where children delve into computers. We want libraries to be vibrant centers of learning for families.”
In that spirit, we plan to launch a proceeding to explore how the E-Rate program can expand access to digital literacy training at more public libraries and schools across the country and, ultimately, forming a Digital Literacy Corps.