During the grassroots advocacy luncheon today, Sally Reed, FOLUSA (Friends of the Library USA) reinforced why it’s so important to get the word out about what libraries do and why it matters. If they are to support and fund libraries, the public and decision-makers have to understand the role of the library in creating an informed democracy and understand why the library is unique and indispensable.
Reed gave several reasons why the library is unique – expertise available on hand, parenting collections, modeling of reading to children via story hours, meeting learning needs, computer and technology support, more.
Here’s where she caught my attention. At the beginning of her talk, she said, ”The digital divide is alive and with us. Libraries assist those in the depths of the divide without access and experience. Decision-makers want to tell us the library is not relevant any more and funding can be cut, but we have to tell them what we do to support those without access.” Near the end of her talk, she said, “All jobs are online now. Applicants must respond with digital resume and cover letter. Libraries serve those without skills, access. No one else does this to the extent libraries do.”
I moderated a program yesterday on, “Doesn’t Everyone Have the Internet?” This topic is near and dear to my heart. Here are a couple of session handouts with US and Minnesota statistics.
Who Doesn’t Have the Internet? (Minnesota Internet Study) — Marnie Werner, Center for Rural Policy and Development
Digital Divide Statistics: Internet Use and Home Broadband Access – compiled by me from various sources. All feedback welcomed. Sidenote: Let me know if you have more recent data on access for those with disabilities.
Trends in Community Technology Centers in the Twin Cities Area (MN) – an example of “telling the story” to decision-makers. Add your ideas to the list!
“Now More Than Ever: Improving Public Access to Technology” - Catherine Settanni, The Digital Access Project, gave an awesome overview.
The remaining handouts will be posted online soon.