The Future of Libraries and Digitally Inclusive Communities

After Access

Just before the start of the ALA 2015 conference in San Francisco, the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy invited digital inclusion advocates to discuss the future of libraries and digital inclusion.

The After Access: Libraries & Digital Empowerment Summit participants "affirmed that digital information and skills are now woven into most all library services, that the need for library staff and clients to continue to deepen their skills will only escalate, and that the role of providing free access to information and services for everyone remains central to the mission and culture of libraries."

TechSoup's own Ariel Gilbert-Knight was invited to participate in the summit, along with other leaders and influencers in the library and digital inclusion fields. The participants examined local digital inclusion programs as well as national research findings and developed recommendations for future activities. The ALA has published a report summarizing the presentations, discussions, and resources from the summit.

Take the ALA's Digital Inclusion Survey and See Your Library's Impact

Every day, public libraries are on the front lines of digital inclusion. You might not know it, but you are a digital inclusion hero. Your public library is most likely doing the following:

  • Providing free Internet access
  • Teaching computer classes
  • Instructing teens on how to use the Internet safely
  • Helping patrons develop job skills
  • Providing access to health information

3D Printers and Library Policy: Cool Technology Needs Rules Too

When a new and exciting technology comes around, such as a 3D printer, it can be easy to forget about rules and policies. And yet, no matter how cool that 3D printer might make your library look, it's still a piece of public use technology. And public use technology requires clear rules and policies.

Five Things to Look Forward to at 2014 ALA Annual Conference

The biggest library conference in the world kicks off this week and TechSoup for Libraries (me) will be there! While I'm a bit reluctant to trade my breezy 65 degree weather here in San Francisco for the scorching estimated 105 degree weather in Las Vegas, I'm excited to attend my first ALA Annual Conference. Here's what I'm looking forward to the most:


National Library Week: Why TechSoup Loves the Library

In honor of National Library Week, we asked TechSoup staff to share why they love their local library. Some shared fond library memories, while others talked about how the library impacts them and their families today.

US Public Libraries and BTOP: A New Report from ALA

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) created the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP ) to increase broadband access and adoption in the US. State and public libraries have been critical partners in many of these projects. This May 2013 report from American Library Association (ALA) looks at library projects around the country, exploring the impact on communities.

Libraries on the front lines of digital literacy efforts

An interesting report from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy’s Digital Literacy Task Force has just been released. Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy provides an overview of the role of libraries in digital literacy and examines current relevant public policies.

Libraries build digital communities

Today I'm co-facilitating an ALA session titled, "Libraries Lead Community Digital Inclusion." Along with my colleagues from WebJunction, ICMA, and IMLS, we'll be guiding librarians through activities that utilize IMLS' recently published Building Digital Communities framework. I'll be talking about gathering stakeholders and leaders for digital inclusion work. Here's what I plan to share.

TechSoup at ALA12 in Anaheim

The TechSoup for Libraries team is in full force at ALA 2012 this year. If you're planning to head to Anaheim, please do try and find us (Sarah Washburn and Stephanie Gerding). We'd love to meet you (or see you again) face to face. Here's where we know we'll be, but expect to see us in sessions and wandering the exhibit hall, too!


Kick it. Benchmarks get more input.

At a recent ALA MidWinter session on the Edge Initiative, Larra Clark from ALA OITP ended her remarks with, "the benchmarks are meant to be kicked. So kick it." Thus launched a focus group exercise where approximately 50 attendees were asked to provide feedback to a draft set of public access technology benchmarks.