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It’s International Digital Inclusion Week!

2018 October 17
by Cindy Fisher

We are celebrating International Digital Inclusion Week here at TSLAC by publishing our first digital inclusion statement, inspired by a similar effort by our colleagues at the Arizona State Library, with special thanks to ASL’s Digital Inclusion Librarian, Nicole Umayam.

By publishing this statement, we hope to share TSLAC’s strategic efforts to assist libraries in creating a more digitally inclusive environment for all Texans.   Read on after the statement to find examples of Texas libraries leading the digital inclusion charge and find more resources on digital inclusion.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Definition of Digital Inclusion

We define digital inclusion as the ability of individuals to access and use information and communication technologies (ICTs). Digital inclusion is achieved through affordable, robust Internet services, digital literacy skills, quality technical support, access to hardware and software, and opportunities for resources and services that augment inclusion efforts.

Libraries are Partners in the Digital Inclusion Effort

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) and staff believe all people have the right to barrier-free access to library and information services that meet personal, educational and professional needs.  This guiding philosophy is at the heart of digital inclusion and the core of the professional mission of library services.

Libraries work towards digital inclusive communities through access and engagement efforts:
Access

  • Libraries provide high-speed internet access to ensure community connectivity to online resources for multiple literacies, workforce readiness and social inclusion.
  • Libraries receive quality technical support to maintain public access to hardware and software that underpins the library’s digital inclusion efforts.
  • Library staff receive continuous training in digital skills and digital literacies to assist in digital inclusion efforts.

Engagement

  • Libraries commit to identify underserved communities and eliminate digital inclusion barriers.
  • Libraries prioritize digital inclusion efforts to advance the delivery of library services and improve the quality of and access to library and information services.
  • Library staff assist users in building their own digital literacy skills to reach individual goals and participate in civic life.

TSLAC Commitment to Digital Inclusion

The TSLAC vision states that Texans will have access to information they need to live informed, productive lives. We are committed to developing the ongoing growth of local library capacity to serve as community hubs for technology and digital inclusion[1] and will do so through five focus areas:

  1. Awareness
  • Identify and propose solutions to topple institutional and societal barriers to access as an effort to close the digital divide.
  • Support and communicate programming which targets services to underserved urban and rural communities and libraries.
  1. Broadband
  • Secure local and federal government support, partnerships and tools in support of technology planning, such as Libraries Connecting Texas and the Edge Assessment.
  • Provide knowledge and expertise for library staff via resources, tools and consultation with TSLAC staff.
  1. Digital Literacy Skills
  • Assist library staff with proactive technology training, such as the You Can Do IT program.
  • Provide responsive consulting, resources, and tools in the areas of emerging technology and library technology.
  1. Funding
  • Promote, investigate and award grants supporting local initiatives for digital equity and inclusion.
  1. Hardware and Software
  • Provide software for patron access of library digital content and services at a cost-savings for libraries, such as Ploud website-hosting.
  • Provide shared online resources for patrons at a cost-savings for libraries, such as TexShare and TexQuest.
  • Provide services that assist libraries in collection sharing for patrons at a cost-savings, such as Interlibrary Loan Navigator.
  • Provide free library services for Texans with blindness or visual, physical, or reading disabilities through Braille and Audio Recordings Download (BARD), available from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped via TSLAC’s Talking Book Program.
  • Sustain and grow the Texas Digital Archive, a central depository of state government information for use by Texans in all parts of the state.

[1] Goal 6 of TSLAC’s 2019-2023 Agency Strategic Plan: https://tinyurl.com/y9gz72y6

Doing Digital Inclusion in Texas

Your library is likely already doing digital inclusion in small ways, such as lending internet-enabled devices like WiFi hotspots and providing hands-on learning opportunities for community members with low digital literacy skills.  Check out the Digital Inclusion Resource Library to download training materials for your own programs or find policy and research articles to keep you current on national and global digital inclusion efforts.

Texans have a great local leader to look to when considering large scale digital inclusion efforts. Through the creation of the San Antonio Digital Inclusion Alliance, San Antonio Public Library is leading a collaborative digital inclusion effort with organizational partners to extend the library’s reach. You can also watch the recorded stream of San Antonio’s first Digital Inclusion Summit here.

If you’d like to take part in International Digital Inclusion Week or need some ideas about how to highlight your digital inclusion efforts, you can take some tips from the National Digital Inclusion Week held just this past May.

Leave us a comment with your thoughts on the TSLAC Digital Inclusion Statement or share how you’re doing digital inclusion at your library.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Albert Chambera permalink
    October 17, 2018

    We have embraced Digital Inclusion by eliminating the most common obstacle in public libraries – the library card!
    All that a patron needs to use our computers is a signature (used for statistical purposes.)
    We have no time or age limits.
    We offer computer literacy programs when staffing allows.
    We also offer free WI-FI 24 hours a day and plan to add portable, lendable hotspots for the public.
    I think that this is a good start for a small library

  2. Cindy Fisher permalink
    October 17, 2018

    Albert, thank you for sharing! This is such a creative and simple way to ensure access. Way to go!

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