How Libraries Are Bridging the Digital Divide

February 16, 2024

Libraries play a major role in Mission: Ignite’s Tech 360 program by providing trusted locations for individuals in the community, electronic resources to use, and librarians to help participants with questions they may have. In addition to all of this, they serve as a means of bridging the digital divide.

“Mission: Ignite partners with libraries through our Tech 360 program, helping to support libraries with critical needs such as trained Digital Literacy Trainers and Digital Navigators, as well as computers for the trainees to take home once they have completed the Tech 360 program training. It’s an honor and a privilege to come alongside these institutions with limited resources to help solve the digital divide,” says Christine Carr-Barmasse, Mission: Ignite’s Executive Director.

Kenneth Roman is Head of Adult Services at the George F. Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott, NY.  He acknowledges the significant need for digital equity and believes that libraries should be equipped to help. “I see a lot of people who came from a generation where information was: ‘Come to the library, and you’ll find it in a book or printed source.’ Nowadays, it’s in an app or some digital form. There’s a hindrance to information access if you don’t understand technology.”

Roman says, “I see us in a role of teaching people new things. Even if we get to a point where everyone is comfortable with technology, they might not all have full access to it. I see a lot of opportunities for the library to continue to help in the future.”

The George F. Johnson Memorial Library is just one of many libraries partnering with Mission: Ignite. Tech 360 is supported at ten different Buffalo and Erie County Public Library locations. Joy Testa Cinquino works as Assistant Deputy Director of Development and Communications for BECPL. She agrees with Roman: “Libraries have a long history of providing their communities access to resources that may otherwise not be available.” Pointing out specific examples, she says, “Whether it is providing free computer and Wi-Fi access, computer training classes, or one-on-one support, the BECPL is committed to services that benefit all the residents of Erie County.”

It’s clear that libraries are a critical part of preserving and growing digital inclusion. As the world continues to become more reliant on technology, libraries remain crucial in enabling and educating people with limited access to the internet.

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