Digital Inclusion Survey
Digital Inclusion Builds Communities Today (and Tomorrow)
The ubiquity of the Internet poses challenges and opportunities for communities and individuals alike. These challenges and opportunities, however, are not evenly distributed. Equitable access to and participation in the online environment is essential for success contemporary life. And yet, communities and individuals find themselves at differing levels of readiness in their ability to access and use the Internet, robust and scalable broadband, a range of digital technologies, and digital content.
Research from the Public Library Funding & Technology, Opportunity for All, and Pew Internet studies show that libraries are vital hubs that provide access to public access technologies and digital content. When taken together, these studies also show that community and individual success requires a comprehensive approach to creating digital inclusion that ensures opportunity for all communities and individuals regardless of geographic location, socio-economic status, or any other factor.
Digital inclusion has three broad facets: access, adoption, and application. These facets show the ultimate goal of creating digitally inclusive communities:
- Access: Availability, affordability, design for inclusion, and public access.
- Adoption: Relevance, digital literacy, and consumer safety.
- Application: Economic and workforce development, education, health care, public safety and emergency services, civic engagement, and social connections.
In order to achieve these goals, libraries promote digital inclusion in four significant ways:
- By providing free access to public access technologies (hardware, software, high-speed Internet connectivity) in their communities.
- By providing access to a range of digital content to their communities.
- By providing digital literacy services that assist individuals navigate, understand, evaluate, and create digital content using a range of information and communications technologies.
- By providing programs and services around key community need areas such as health and wellness, education, employment and workforce development, and civic engagement.
Participation in the survey is critical to demonstrating the significant impacts that public libraries have in building digitally inclusive communities, and will enable libraries to:
- Identify the impacts of public computer and Internet access on the community.
- Show library public access technology services in terms of key community demographics.
- Identify gaps in public access technology services based on community needs.
- Demonstrate library contributions to community digital inclusion efforts.
- Support efforts to inform and educate stakeholders – policymakers, foundations, elected officials, trustees, and the media – about the value of libraries in building digitally inclusive communities.
For more information, see our page What is Digital Inclusion?