The Illinois State Library is encouraging the state’s public libraries to fill out the U.S. Institute of Museum of Library Services’ "Digital Inclusion Survey." The deadline is Friday, November 15, 2013.
The IMLS and its partners state, “Research from the Public Library Funding & Technology, Opportunity for All, and Pew Internet studies show that libraries are vital digital hubs that provide access to public…technologies and digital content, and that millions of people use those technologies for education, employment, civic engagement, and health purposes and to enhance their digital literacy skills. In doing so, public libraries are essential to the building of digitally inclusive communities.”
Samantha Becker, Michael D. Crandall, Karen E. Fisher, Rebecca Blakewood, Bo Kinney, and Cadi Russell-Sauvé were the co-authors of “Opportunity for All: How Library Policies & Practices Impact Public Internet Access,” which the IMLS published in 2011. The IMLS is funding the "Digital Inclusion Survey," which is being conducted by the American Library Association (A.L.A.), the Information Policy & Access Center (i.P.A.C.) at the University of Maryland, and the International City/County Management Association (I.C.M.A.). According to the IMLS and its partners, “this study conducts a national survey of public libraries that explores the digital inclusion roles of public libraries in four key areas.”
The first area is public access technology infrastructure resources and capacity (e.g., public access workstations; broadband connectivity). The second is digital content, services, and accessibility.
The third is digital literacy. This includes languages in which libraries offer instruction. The fourth is domains-specific services and programs (civic engagement, education, health, and employment).
The IMLS and its partners state, “Participation in the survey is critical to demonstrating the significant impacts that public libraries have in building digital inclusive communities.” The “Digital Inclusion Survey” builds on the “Proposed Framework for Digitally Inclusive Communities,” produced by the IMLS and ICMA, and the Technology & Social Change Group at the University of Washington Information School.
“Be it helping residents continue their educations, find jobs, improve their career skills, access e-government services, research health information, or connect with family and friends, libraries play an essential role in helping local government meet their greatest challenges by connecting their services to critical community priorities,” stated Robert J. O’Neill, Jr., Executive Director of the ICMA. “Partnering with ALA and the University of Maryland on this project will help bring greater understanding and awareness on the role of libraries on the critical issue of digital inclusion.”
“Our libraries are at the heart of building digitally inclusive communities, and this new survey will help us demonstrate this to our key stakeholders,” said Ann Joslin, President of Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (C.O.S.L.A.). “I’m excited that new interactive tools will make it easier to connect library and community data like library workforce services and local unemployment rates, library digital literacy initiatives and local graduation rates, and other community demographics. The new survey places libraries in a community context that will make it easier to identify gaps in our services and demonstrate the impacts of our technology resources.”
“Libraries thrive on relevant, current information,” stated Andrea Berstler, President of the Association of Rural & Small Libraries, Inc. (A.R.S.L.). “The ability to analyze current data as a means of forecasting the future needs of a community or an organization is a major tool utilized by libraries across the county in the work of staying relevant and timely. For small and rural libraries, this struggle is all the more difficult. Lack of resources, time and access to quality data creates an information vacuum where directors and boards make decisions based on incomplete or outdated facts. By being able to access the information from a project built with the resources of ALA and the University of Maryland, small and rural libraries across the country will have proven information for making crucial decisions about the future needs of their communities and how libraries can work to successfully bridge the digital divide.”
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