For immediate release | August 16, 2022

PLA awards $1.1 million to 160 public libraries to conduct digital literacy workshops 

A national initiative funded by PLA Digital Literacy Workshop Incentive, supported by AT&T



CHICAGO — With over $1 million in contributions from AT&T, the Public Library Association (PLA) has selected 160 public libraries to host digital literacy workshops across the country. The PLA Digital Literacy Workshop Incentive, supported by AT&T, is designed to support public libraries in their efforts to boost digital skills for all members of their communities. The workshops leverage online digital literacy courses, created by PLA in collaboration with AT&T, that are available to anyone through DigitalLearn.org and AT&T ScreenReady®. DigitalLearn.org online courses and training materials were developed with and for library staff and their patrons. The site’s digital literacy offerings cover everything from technology basics to how to avoid online scams.

From small towns to big cities, funded libraries’ efforts will be specific to each community’s unique needs. Just a few examples of how funds will be used are: creating new or expanding digital literacy education; hosting digital literacy workshops using the new and updated course materials; and promoting the courses and workshops with patrons and in the community.

“The mission of libraries has always been about equitable access to information, literacy, learning, and culture. In the age of COVID-19, this mission has only become more vital as libraries have played a critical role in keeping communities connected and online," said PLA President Maria McCauley.

"A 2020 PLA survey found that about 88% of public libraries provide some form of digital literacy support, but only 42% offer formal classes. Staffing and funding were the top barriers to providing technology training. AT&T's investment with PLA and public libraries nationwide will boost access to digital literacy skills for the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Libraries were able to apply for funding in two tiers: $4,000 for a minimum of three workshops and related supports, or $7,000 for a minimum of five workshops and related supports. Across both tiers, 160 libraries in 44 states were selected to receive funding. The complete list of libraries is available here: https://www.ala.org/pla/initiatives/digitalliteracy/incentive/cohort.

“It will take a collective response to narrow the digital divide,” said Charlene Lake, chief sustainability officer, senior vice president, AT&T corporate responsibility, ESG. “That’s why AT&T is collaborating with libraries and community centers to bring digital literacy tools and resources to people who are unconnected or newly connected and unable to carry out many of the essential tasks our increasingly digital world requires.”

Workshops funded by the PLA Digital Literacy Workshop Incentive will be conducted online and/or in person at participating libraries across the United States before March 31, 2023. Workshop schedules will be announced this October.

About the Public Library Association

The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or pla@ala.org.

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T

We’re committed to advancing education, creating opportunities, strengthening communities and improving lives. As part of our companywide $2 billion commitment from 2021 to 2023 to address the digital divide, we launched AT&T Connected Learning to invest in connectivity and technology, digital literacy and education solutions to help today’s learners succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Since 2008, we’ve committed more than $600 million to programs that help millions of students across all 50 states and around the world, particularly those in underserved communities.

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Contact:

Eliana Tang Kleiman

Communications Associate 

Public Library Association 

ekleiman@ala.org