June 14, 2012


IMLS Press Contacts
Mamie Bittner, mbittner@imls.gov

Washington, DC—Today the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced a $250,000 award to WebJunction to work with state libraries in Illinois, Mississippi, and West Virginia; federal policy makers; and the national nonprofit Connect2Compete to help national digital literacy efforts effectively work with libraries to plan for and deliver digital literacy training. The grant will identify model approaches for partnerships with libraries to meet public demand for training.

"The fact that one third of Americans lack broadband at home is a rallying call to action that has engaged policy makers, researchers, public officials, nonprofits, and the private sector," said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. "We know that one of the significant barriers to broadband adoption is digital literacy, and we know that U.S. libraries are the nation’s de facto digital literacy corps. The National Broadband Plan recognized the role of libraries as ‘critical to building the digital proficiency skills of their communities.’"

During the past year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced major commitments from the private sector, foundations, and individuals to work with Connect2Compete, a national nonprofit organization with an ambitious goal to "harness digital opportunity for all Americans."

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski joined Hildreth in today’s announcement saying, ""I applaud Director Hildreth and IMLS for taking steps to help Connect2Compete bridge the digital literacy and broadband adoption gap in the United States. The new grant announced today will help libraries test innovative ideas to support digital literacy programs where the data show a real return on investment. For millions of Americans, libraries are the only places they can get help to go online. For millions more, libraries are an important complement to at-home connectivity, and they remain a trusted resource in communities."

"We are pleased to be a part of the National Broadband Adoption efforts," said Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Global Vice President of Marketing. "This planning grant will allow us to enhance the work that libraries already do to provide critical infrastructure for digital learning in their communities. We will support libraries in strengthening effective partnerships across public and private organizations to help Americans get the skills they need for success in work, education and civic engagement."

Hildreth added "Libraries are indeed stepping up to the challenge, 78 percent of them offer informal training in digital literacy, helping people learn how to use computers, navigate the web, and find the best and most useful information. And 38 percent offer formal classes. However, there is much work to be done to assure that libraries are effectively engaged in national digital literacy efforts. This grant will help to raise awareness about the best ways to leverage and support libraries’ capacity to deliver digital literacy training."

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. Through grant making, policy development, and research, we help communities and individuals thrive through broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning. To learn more about IMLS, please visit www.imls.gov.

About WebJunction

OCLC’s WebJunction is a continuing education resource offered in partnership with state libraries. WebJunction focuses on library management, services, and technology, especially for small or rural libraries. Since 2003, more than 70,000 WebJunction members use these services to build the skills they need to lead the challenges of today’s libraries. To learn more, visit www.webjunction.org.

National Leadership Grants for Libraries