Narrowing the Digital Divide - One Library at a Time

September 9 2010

In 2008, I was fortunate to join a group of national facilitators for Turning the Page: Building Your Library Community. At the onset, I couldn’t have imagined the amazing adventure that was in store for me – traveling the US for two years to train public librarians and trustees from Portland, ME to Portland, OR. I helped these leaders to build and maintain their teams; develop compelling stories to motivate residents to raise funds; and effectively advocate on behalf of their libraries with key funders and decision makers.

I’ve been a “card-carrying member” of the Brooklyn Public Library for a long time; but my passion and interest in public libraries has truly blossomed since meeting my new “rowdy” library friends. Through the TTP project, I learned first-hand how the economic downturn has impacted cities and towns across the country. More importantly, I learned how public libraries are stepping up to the plate to help close the gap with free access to technology and other relevant resources for job seekers and business owners.

The TTP project is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of their US Libraries Initiative. The Foundation’s goal is to narrow the digital divide by “helping public libraries provide free, quality computer and Internet services to everyone who walks through their doors.”

Now, I’m excited to announce that I’ve been asked to facilitate the TTP program for a select group of the Foundation’s Global Library grantees. This September, I will gather with grantees from Botswana, Bulgaria, Chile, Lithuania, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and Vietnam in Brussels to lead this training. Attendees will include library directors, advocacy specialists, library association members and supporters, and government representatives.

It’s truly an honor to be part of this endeavor to narrow the digital divide – globally! Beyond software and hardware, our focus is on building sustainability – giving librarians and trustees leadership and communication skills to successfully encourage supporters to invest in library services over the long-term.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the local needs and brainstorming strategies to ensure public access to the Internet and technology. I’ll continue to share updates and “lessons learned” from my journey. Until then, I’ll see you at the Library!
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