New report looks to future of libraries building digitally inclusive communities

For Immediate Release
Thu, 12/17/2015


Nancy Gravatt
Press Officer
ALA Washington Office
ALA Washington

Washington, D.C. – A new report explores the ways in which libraries throughout the nation are leading the way in building digitally inclusive communities that support individual opportunity and community progress. Titled After Access: Libraries and Digital Empowerment, the paper shares research, resources and expert conversations gathered from a summit of digital inclusion advocates hosted by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). 

The summer convening explored how library professionals and their collaborators can best meet the changing digital information and literacy needs of their communities.  The event was co-sponsored by the ALA Office for Research and Statistics and the University of Maryland Information Policy & Access Center as part of its Digital Inclusion Survey research, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

“Libraries today represent a national critical infrastructure that delivers services and engages communities—with a long history of accomplishment connecting people with each other and with diverse resources,” said Larra Clark, deputy director of ALA OITP. “As we seek to increase broadband access for all through efforts like modernizing the Lifeline program and supporting ConnectHome, we also must continue to build digital readiness as the skills needed to fully participate online shift and expand.”  

The summit sought to connect the Digital Inclusion Survey and related research to describe the current landscape; define next steps in building digitally inclusive communities; and engage the collective wisdom and experience of local and national experts to discuss how to advance the field in four areas: programs and services; staff training and capacity building; policy and funding; and research and evaluation.

“As we expand our digital lives,” the report notes, “librarians are expanding the ways in which they reach into communities to help people harness the transformative power of digital information to support education, employment, entrepreneurship, empowerment and engagement—or The E’s of Libraries®.”  The report reflects those conversations and incorporates some of the latest related research, programs and services, and digital inclusion policy developments.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.