My first job after finishing my library science degree was at a public library in Camden, New Jersey. For many patrons, the library computers were their only access to computers and the internet. I helped patrons fill out job applications, write resumes, and more. I remember trying to help a patron book an appointment for an immigration interview. New appointments opened up at midnight, but by the time the Library opened, all of the appointment slots would already be taken. That job taught me digital inclusion involves more than providing access to computers, but also access to broadband and Wi-Fi, digital skills, technical support, and online content that enables all to participate. You can find a complete definition of digital inclusion on the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) website.
In my current job at a community college library, we lend laptops, calculators, and hotspots to students, and many students use our space for access to Wi-Fi and computers. Our lending services have grown over the last few years, as the pandemic put a spotlight on digital inclusion. The 2023 Net Inclusion Conference organized by NDIA was held at the end of February. I did not attend, but discovered that many resources related to the conference can be found online and wanted to share these resources, as they are relevant to libraries:
- Shared notetaking documents for breakout sessions
- Session recordings (plenary and some breakout sessions)
The Word Cloud below is made from the conference session titles and gives you an idea of the type of information you can find on the conference website.