PLA, AT&T team up to bring digital literacy training to families

For Immediate Release
Mon, 05/03/2021


Scott Allen

Deputy Director

Public Library Association

American Library Association

CHICAGO – The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association, and AT&T have announced a collaboration to improve digital literacy and promote broadband adoption among families and communities, particularly those who are newly connected to the internet and navigating home schooling, employment and other activities made challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PLA and AT&T will offer a specially curated collection of digital literacy courses so parents and families can build the skills and confidence they need to help children navigate distance learning and participate effectively and safely in today’s digital world. Based on content from PLA’s training site, courses will address critical, basic skills such as searching, navigating a website, using passwords, and avoiding scams. New content will also be developed focusing on using mobile devices and video conferencing. All courses and related classroom training materials will be available in both English and Spanish.

Courses will be available virtually for everyone and offered in-person at public libraries and community locations including community centers and other learning spaces. As part of AT&T’s recently-announced 3-year commitment to help bridge the digital divide, AT&T employee volunteers will also use classroom training materials from DigitalLearn to teach core technology skill classes in AT&T Connected Learning Centers, reaching families in traditionally underserved neighborhoods where residents face barriers to connectivity.

“Every public library in the U.S. helps community members with technology skills, and PLA’s DigitalLearn has been a valuable tool for library staff and others who are working to close the digital divide,” said Michelle Jeske, Denver City Librarian and PLA 2020-2021 President. “We’re thrilled to team up with AT&T to collaborate on new and updated content, and to reach new families and communities across the nation with AT&T and their Connected Learning Centers.”

“Digital Literacy is an important part of helping to close the digital divide and homework gap,” said Gwen Oldham, director of citizenship and sustainability, AT&T. “We are proud to work with the Public Library Association to offer a special collection of digital literacy courses for newly connected families and parents to develop confidence and skills to help their children participate effectively and safely in online learning.”

PLA’s DigitalLearn, launched in 2013 with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, is a growing collection of 27 courses, video-based with narration and 6-22 minutes long, written in plain language at an elementary to middle school reading level. Courses are in English and Spanish and cover basic technology, job searching, online health information and more. For library staff and other instructors, the site also includes slide templates, handouts, and planning tools for live classroom or virtual training. PLA promotes DigitalLearn as a tool for libraries and other community-based organizations to promote digital skills and works with individual libraries to stand up customizable DigitalLearn sites such as those in Nashville and Cleveland.

The PLA/AT&T collaboration will launch in the summer of 2021, with the release of new courses and the debut of the AT&T DigitalLearn web site. Later in 2021, PLA and AT&T will provide training and funding to public libraries nationwide to conduct digital literacy programs in their facilities and in their communities.

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 10,000 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

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T  
Our society doesn't work if it doesn't work equally for all. We recognize that inequalities are pervasive, and we have a role to play in helping to address them. That’s why we’re committed to advancing education, creating opportunities, strengthening communities and improving lives, particularly amongst historically underserved populations. We have a long history of investing in projects that promote academic and economic achievement and addressing community needs that promote social justice and racial equality. With a financial commitment of more than $600 million through AT&T Aspire since 2008, AT&T has leveraged technology, relationships and social innovation to help give people – regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic status – the opportunity to succeed.