IMLS Award to the Public Library Association will Develop Online Digital Literacy Resource

September 14, 2012
 
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

IMLS Press Contact
202-653-4630
Mamie Bittner, mbittner@imls.gov

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced today that the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has been awarded a $291,178 grant through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. PLA will partner with the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to develop an online collection of digital literacy resources that will be accessible to libraries, patrons, and other community-based organizations. In addition to user-directed resources, the grant activities will include development of training curricula in English and Spanish, technology trainer competencies, handouts, and patron skills assessment.

"We know that more than 100 million people do not have broadband access at home," said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. "One of the most significant barriers to adoption is the need for digital literacy skills. I believe that this project will help people use the Internet to find jobs, get an education, and make social connections that strengthen our communities."

"We are committed to helping public libraries prepare for the launch of the broadband initiative Connect2Compete this fall and an Ad Council campaign in early 2013 urging people to visit their local libraries for free online tools and digital literacy education," said Eva Poole, PLA President and Chief of Staff of the District of Columbia Public Library. This grant will enable us to address the lack of consistent, high-quality, accessible digital literacy materials."

Dr. Lamar Veatch, COSLA President and Georgia State Librarian said, "A significant number of state libraries are the hubs of their states’ Broadband Technology Opportunities Programs (BTOP), and many additional state libraries are also heavily invested with their public libraries in digital literacy activities. This grant is a natural fit for COSLA to join in this national effort. We anticipate being an asset in sharing and evaluating existing state digital literacy resources, developing new materials, and ensuring that libraries throughout the U.S. can effectively use and grow this grant's resulting collection."

PLA will launch the online beta resource center at the 2013 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, with plans to continue demonstrations of the resource center at ALA and PLA conferences throughout 2013 and 2014. Key steps throughout the two-year grant period include the following:

  • Gathering and evaluating existing state and public library resources related to digital literacy
  • Promoting these resources to increase library awareness
  • Developing and implementing instructional resources
  • Identifying gaps in resources as well as solutions for remediating the gaps
  • Assessing and possibly developing materials for special populations

PLA aims to ensure the sustainability of the resource center by continuing to vet and add high-quality digital literacy tools to the collection based on practitioner feedback, including materials for the Latino and Spanish-speaking communities with the help of REFORMA, establishing a community of practice, and determining viable partnerships for continued training and evolution of the center.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our grants, policy development, and research helps communities and individuals thrive by providing broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning. To learn more about IMLS, please visit www.imls.gov.

About the Public Library Association
PLA is a division of the American Library Association. PLA’s core purpose is to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to the communities they serve. Its mission is to enhance the development and effectiveness of public library staff and public library services. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or visit PLA’s website at www.pla.org.

About the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies
COSLA is an independent organization of the chief officers of state and territorial agencies designated as the state library administrative agency and responsible for statewide library development. Its purpose is to provide leadership on issues of common concern and national interest, to further state library agency relationships with federal government and national organizations, and to initiate cooperative action for the improvement of library services to the people of the United States.

About the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
The Office for Information Technology Policy advances ALA's public policy activities by helping secure information technology policies that support and encourage efforts of libraries to ensure access to electronic information resources as a means of upholding the public's right to a free and open information society. It works to ensure a library voice in information policy debates and to promote full and equitable intellectual participation by the public. For more information, visit www.ala.org/oitp.