Public libraries play a vital role in ensuring digital equity and readiness by providing free access to a range of public access technologies, broadband, and Internet-enabled services to those who could not otherwise access these resources. Public libraries also provide training and assistance to those who lack technology skills or who have difficulty using and creating digital content.
Digital literacy is the ability to locate, evaluate, and use digital information.
Those with digital literacy skills can efficiently find the information they seek, evaluate that information, and use that information effectively. The ability to recognize what information is needed and when to use it are additional components of digital literacy. Digital literacy also includes the ability to effectively use a range of technologies and web services. These different components of digital literacy are of equal significance. Without access, people cannot develop digital literacy; without digital literacy, they cannot gain maximum benefit from online resources.
Types of Service
Public libraries offer a variety of patron technology training opportunities, including:
- 94.0% of libraries offer either formal or informal technology training to patrons;
- 89.9% of libraries offer basic Internet usage training;
- 86.9% of libraries offer general computer use training;
- 84.4% of libraries offer productivity software training;
- 61.8% of libraries offer new technology training;
- 57.2% of libraries offer safe online practice (e.g., privacy) training; and
- 55.9% of libraries offer social media use training.
Training on these topics is offered informally at the time of need, through formal classes, and through individual appointments.
Just as community access has become an important component of public library services, so too has patron technology training. Although public libraries face many challenges in their efforts to provide access and instruction services, they are embracing their role in ensuring digital equity and readiness, and as such, in building digitally inclusive communities.
More details on this topic are available in our Public Libraries & Digital Literacy issue brief.