Digital Inclusion: Why should you care?
Almost exactly 80 years ago, in May of 1936, the Rural Electrification Act was signed. This act provided electricity to rural areas where the power companies did not find it profitable to extend wires. Twenty or so years ago, the term “digital divide” was born. This phrase -- meant to distinguish between the haves and have-nots of technology and computer literacy -- is probably a familiar one to you. Libraries and schools, in an attempt to address this problem, began adding computers, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and computer training, and have largely succeeded in their missions to provide on-site technology and technology training.
Now, decades later, we are talking about a different sort of problem – one more closely related to the one that the Rural Electrification Act was created to address – and it is being called “digital equity.” Digital equity is the idea that, when it comes to broadband access, there are “haves” and “have-nots.” Many areas of the county lack the actual ability to connect to broadband because they live where the cables just don’t (or often won’t) run.
A quick look at the data available from Connect Ohio, an organization dedicated to bringing broadband access to Ohio, shows that Southwestern Ohio (that’s the S.W.O. in SWON, of course!) is surprisingly lacking in broadband penetration. But you might be wondering what this has to do with libraries. After all, we can’t lay the fiber optic cable ourselves!
There are many new and innovative ideas bubbling to address just this question. A few libraries are looking into providing access via “TV White Space.” Others are lending out Wi-Fi hotspots. The Consortium for School Networking has some great ideas that, while targeted at schools, are worth our consideration, as well. (You can download the CoSN Digital Equity Action Toolkit for some of those ideas at this link.)
Interested in learning more? Melanie has recently returned from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s first summit in Kansas City and would love to share with you some of what she has learned. Join us on June 20th at 2 PM to for our Innovation Conversation on the basics on Digital Inclusion and answer the question, “Why should you care?”
30 minutes - About Digital Inclusion
15 minutes - Q&A led by SWON interviewer: Cassondra
15 minutes - Live Q&A featuring your questions
Supporting Member Libraries: Free!
Enhanced Members of SERLS: Free!
Geographic Libraries: $25.00
Out-of-State Libraries: $50.00
Melanie A. Blau McDonald
Melanie has had a diverse career in business and libraries with the consistent themes of responsible fiscal management, training, customer service, outreach and quality. As a third generation volunteer librarian, she finally 'made it official' and received her MLIS from the University of Illinois's GSLIS program in 2006. Melanie has volunteered or worked in school libraries, academic libraries and special libraries performing reference, reader's advisory, library usability studies, library outreach, instruction and staff development and training. At the National level, Melanie has presented at the Military Librarian's Workshop and held the Corporate Director position on the Military Librarian's Division Board. Since 2010, she has been writing the Spread the Word column for the Government Documents Round Table journal, Documents to the People. The column focuses on using freely available government documents to create library programming.
Melanie blogs on the home page of swonlibraries.org, which is copied to her LinkedIn page and swonlibraries twitter feed.
About the Innovation Conversations
Innovation Conversations give you the chance to hear from and speak with library leaders from all library types and from all over the English speaking library world. Each month you can interact with an award-winning or recognized leader in our field.
The first part of the online meeting will feature a short presentation on the topic that brought this library leader to our attention. The second part is a live interview, covering questions you’ve sent to us in advance and some we’ve thought of. The third part will field your questions, a live Q&A, in the webinar. Ask about the challenges, the key details, and whatever else you would like to learn.
Together, we'll learn more about successful projects and the people behind them than a brief magazine article might include. We're going beyond the blog post, bringing you the chance to ask the questions you want answered to evaluate, adapt, or implement new ideas for your library. Join us for SWON's new Innovation Conversations!