Today marks the launch of Everyone On – a national campaign to promote the importance of digital literacy skills and increase access to computer and Internet training. I just took the EveryoneOn pledge to help at least one person learn how to do something better online. Librarians take that pledge every day, and that’s why public libraries have been partnering with Connect 2 Compete to make sure people know where to find resources in their communities.
Often those resources are at public libraries. According to the most recent library technology report from the American Library Association (ALA), nearly every one of the 16,400+ public library buildings in America offers free access to computers and the Internet; 44% of public libraries offer formal digital literacy courses; and a third of public libraries (34.8%) invite patrons to schedule one-on-one appointments with a librarian to get coaching on digital access. Even at those libraries without formal classes, a librarian is usually ready to help people access a computer and the Internet. Patrons can also get online assistance through DigitalLearn.org, a new site developed by ALA.
People do go to the library to use those computers! According to a recent report on Library Services in the Digital Age from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 91% of Americans believe that libraries are important to their community. Survey respondents marked access to technology on par with research assistance and borrowing books – three quarters of Americans (77-80%) say these services are very important. One in four Americans went to the library last year to use a computer and the Internet. But more important than the numbers are the people. See how a Colorado resident found resources at his library to learn computer skills and apply for job, how students in Cuyahoga County connect with friends and mentors and get homework help, and how seniors in Houston are learning that “at least they can’t break it” and that the Internet opens access to a world of exploration.
Mayor Brad Sellers of City of Warrenville Heights, Ohio said “technology is important because it opens doors. Libraries matter because they change people’s lives.”
Take the pledge. Help someone do something better online. And support your local library because librarians take that pledge every day.
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Karen Perry for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation