Three rural counties in Georgia are one stop closer to getting free digital Internet access through the creation of a high-tech mobile library supported by a Knight Foundation grant. This morning, the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries (CVL) announced the $258,400 grant and their plan to take broadband technology to people in underserved rural areas near Columbus.
Beverly Blake, Knight's Macon-based program director, was on the road when the news broke in Georgia. She's attending the invitation-only FiberF'te in Lafayette, La., learning about that community's innovative fiber optic infrastructure and municipal broadband network, already in place. Before she left, she commented on the impact the mobile library will have when it takes to the road in 2011. 'Digital access is essential to first-class citizenship in our society. Without digital, you lack full access to information; you are second class economically and even socially. While the mobile library will benefit families and individuals, the staff of CVL will also benefit as they learn more about the people they serve and how CVL can provide those customers access to computers, the Internet and materials that they wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain.'
The grant to CVL is part of a $5.7 million Knight Foundation initiative benefiting library users in 20 communities across the United States. The effort reinforces the recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, a project of the Aspen Institute. In a report issued earlier this year, the Commission concluded that democracy in America is threatened by the lack of equal access to quality information. Funding public libraries as centers of digital and media training is one key to fill the gaps.