For immediate release | June 15, 2023

ALA, Capital One announce 14 rural libraries selected for Community Connect: Fostering Digital Access grants

Chicago – The American Library Association (ALA) and Capital One announced 14 public libraries newly selected to participate in Community Connect: Fostering Digital Access, a program supporting digital access and financial capability for rural communities across the U.S.

The selected libraries represent small and rural communities in nine states. They include Green Sea (S.C.) Floyds Library with a service population of 105 and East Polk Public Library in Ducktown, Tennessee with a population of 474. The 14 libraries newly selected for the program join 16 rural libraries already participating in Community Connect: Digital Access at Home, an earlier pilot phase of the program first launched in 2020. View the full list of participating libraries.

In the coming months, libraries will receive five Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots and five HP laptops to lend to patrons, a $2,000 programming stipend, and professional development opportunities to help library workers assist patrons in establishing affordable and high-speed home internet connections from the national nonprofit EveryoneOn. Findings from the Digital Access at Home pilot program showed that providing library patrons with these resources, especially during the pandemic, supported an improved quality of life.

“Internet is no longer a luxury when folks require it for so many aspects of their lives,” wrote Dana Schmidt of the Yankton (S.D.) Community Library in her winning proposal. “Many companies require online applications and digital literacy skills to obtain employment. Increased access to the internet would make employment opportunities, healthcare and education more accessible to people in our community.”

“Digital access is the on-ramp to society," shared Jessa Thomas, Senior Manager, Community Impact & Investment at Capital One. "Enabling people to stay connected through access to information and resources in a trusted community space, such as a library, has been key.”

Through Community Connect, ALA and Capital One are partnering to expand the service capacity of rural libraries by: offering hotspot and laptop lending policies, and information about affordable broadband access and digital literacy; improving digital access for rural library patrons to enhance opportunities for social mobility; and increasing the program’s earlier impact by equipping libraries with resources and assistance from EveryoneOn to help establish internet connections via opportunities like the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program.

Community Connect: Fostering Digital Access is managed by ALA’s Public Programs Office in collaboration with the Public Library Association. To be alerted about future offerings from ALA’s Public Programs Office, sign up to receive ALA's Programming Librarian e-newsletter.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types.

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.

Contact:

Hannah Arata

Communications Specialist

American Library Association

Public Programs Office

harata@ala.org

Tags