Special Report: Toward an Equitable Digital Future

March 1, 2022

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 … Continue reading Special Report: Toward an Equitable Digital Future


Moving the Needle

March 1, 2022

1: Look around The first step is to take inventory of what digital programs, services, resources, and staffing already exist in your library and identify gaps and opportunities, says Larra Clark, deputy director of PLA and ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office. “That’s the number one thing—where are you today? No matter who you are, … Continue reading Moving the Needle


During the pandemic, Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library launched Tech To-Go, a Chromebook and hotspot lending service, while Digital Durham (in North Carolina) created fliers in English and Spanish that explain the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

Getting There Together

March 1, 2022

“During the pandemic, the number of place-based digital inclusion coalitions has more than tripled,” says Angela Siefer, director of the nonprofit National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), a community of digital inclusion practitioners and policymakers. “The sudden awareness of digital inequities and the need for coordinated solutions caused folks to come together, [and] libraries are often … Continue reading Getting There Together


Image of ALA President Patricia "Patty" M. Wong

We Must Lead on Digital Equity

March 1, 2022

A Public Library Association study released in September 2021 provides a current picture of how libraries serve as digital equity hubs. The study found that more than 88% of all public libraries offer formal or informal digital literacy programming, more than one-third (36.7%) have dedicated digital literacy and technology programs and training staff, and more than … Continue reading We Must Lead on Digital Equity


Youth Matters, by Molly June Roquet

Rethinking Digital Literacy

March 1, 2022

But instead of helping students understand these phenomena, digital literacy curricula tend to focus on individual behavior and responsibilities: Do protect your private information. Don’t cyberbully your classmates. Do use citations. These lessons often aim to correct perceived misbehavior or build academic skills but do little to raise students’ awareness of the complex social issues … Continue reading Rethinking Digital Literacy


Photo of Dispatches author Carson Block

Diagnose and Fix

November 1, 2021

The Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit is a free, open source learning, diagnostic, and advocacy resource funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The kit’s Creative Commons license allows users to remix, adapt, and build on the work, making it a powerful starting point for training in library organizations. The toolkit’s aim is to … Continue reading Diagnose and Fix


Dispatches by Heather Moorefield-Lang

Digital Legacy Planning

September 1, 2020

The themes of afterlife and legacy have become prominent in popular media over the past few years, but the lifecycle of our digital footprint is less understood. The Digital Legacy Association, a British organization that hosts annual conferences on the topic, defines digital legacy as the digital information left behind when a person dies. How … Continue reading Digital Legacy Planning


Dispatches, by Emily Rimland and Victoria Raish

Digital Badges

May 1, 2019

In education Digital badges encourage students to cultivate and showcase granular skills beyond their report cards and prepare them for the workplace. In Teaching with Digital Badges: Best Practices for Libraries (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018), contributing author Amanda Rose Fuller details a workforce-readiness digital badge initiative developed at Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools. This program, designed … Continue reading Digital Badges


Penn State University student Luz Sanchez Tejada uses the school's microcredentialing platform in Pattee Library to earn badges as part of her peer research consultant training. Photo: Steve Tressler

The Making of a Microcredential

January 2, 2019

In the last two years, Penn State University Libraries has seen rapid adoption of its information literacy microcredentials among students. Microcredentials—transferable forms of metadata-encoded, performance-based educational credits—are not new; they started gaining traction in academic libraries around 2012. What is different at Penn State is that to help manage the sudden volume of badge submissions, … Continue reading The Making of a Microcredential


Ana Ndumu, PhD postdoctoral researcher at University of Maryland iSchool, presented her findings on the obstacles black immigrants face in public libraries at the National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 28.

Serving Black Immigrants

September 29, 2018

At “Engaging and Serving Black Immigrant Communities,” a September 28 session at the third National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ana Ndumu, PhD postdoctoral researcher at University of Maryland iSchool, presented her findings on the obstacles black immigrants face in accessing information and what libraries can better do to reach … Continue reading Serving Black Immigrants


Staff members of Charlotte Mecklenburg (N.C.) Library assist seniors at a YMCA DigiLit class designed to help bridge the digital knowledge divide.Photo: Everett Blackmon

Allied Against Inequity

September 4, 2018

In San Antonio, residents of affluent neighborhoods are four times more likely to have broadband access than residents of low-income neighborhoods. “There’s definitely a need in the community,” says Candelaria Mendoza, library services administrator at San Antonio Public Library (SAPL). “We understand it’s not just about having the internet but having internet that’s fast enough … Continue reading Allied Against Inequity


Kara Shelton Watson

Shaping Digital Citizens

September 4, 2018

I tell them that I believe that digital citizenship falls naturally under the domain of librarians, as we place high value on using and creating information ethically. In schools, we have a curriculum that teaches students the concepts of citizenship, community, and social justice through varied disciplines. And in the school library, these ideals come together. … Continue reading Shaping Digital Citizens