New programs in 21st Century Libraries driving digital literacy
Several initiatives around the world are currently trying to provide access to digital skills and infrastructure for different groups of population in order to democratize access to knowledge and online services. However, one of the main challenges for accomplishing this goal is to come up with efficient training strategies that are efficient in terms of costs, trained personnel and availability for the users.
In this context, libraries have gained relevance as public spaces that can be renovated to fit the 21st century technology requirements by providing a cost-efficient and easily-available solution to promote ICT adoption and training. According to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) “Worldwide, 320,000 public libraries and more than a million parliamentary, national, university, science and research, school, and special libraries ensure that information and the skills to use it are available to everyone – making them critical institutions for all in the digital age. Libraries provide information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, help people develop the capacity to effectively use information, and preserve information to ensure ongoing access for future generations.”
One of the main strengths of leveraging library infrastructure and personnel for promoting digital literacy, is that they are able to generate programs to address the lack of skills in targeted groups of population. Two recent examples from different regions are:
- Tech Savvy Seniors Queensland program in Australia, funded by Telstra and the local government, provides seniors from Mount Isa with access to digital skills workshops. The contents of the courses include access to different platforms for socializing, accessing services and enhancing their businesses.
- Accessible Digital Library in Uruguay was created to support students with visual impairments to access contents through ICTs. The project, organized by the National Blind Association of Uruguay and the Republic University, will allow thousands of users to download educational materials in accessible formats and read the documents in their own personal devices.