Over the past two years, the pandemic has exposed the widening gap in the US among those with and without consistent access to the internet.
Even as lockdowns have eased and most schools and libraries have reopened, the availability of reliable broadband, devices, and digital literacy training remains critical—whether for schoolwork, employment, public services, telehealth visits, social connections, or civic participation. And this need will grow exponentially as technology infrastructure continues to evolve.
Library workers have been working to address the complex issue of the digital divide and advance digital equity for more than two decades. Now, armed with new tools, funding, partnerships, data, and social awareness, many groups, including libraries, see that a more equitable digital future is within reach.
Our special report on digital equity is inspired by a key focus area of ALA President Patricia “Patty” M. Wong’s “Libraries Connect” presidential initiative. As she writes in her column in the March/April 2022 issue, “With greater awareness … comes the responsibility of all library workers to advocate for digital equity.”
In this special report, you’ll find articles on:
- free resources for libraries, including the Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit
- statistics and context on broadband affordability and access
- federal funding that’s available now—and what’s on the policy horizon—for libraries working toward digital inclusion
- eight tips to advance digital equity immediately
- a round table discussion on community coalitions
With innovation, outreach, and collaboration, library workers are educating themselves, their communities, and their stakeholders on the growing need for digital inclusion efforts. This special report is intended to be a launch pad for further exploration and action.
What action will your library take to serve your digitally underserved communities?