To expand access to broadband technology and digital literacy training beyond physical library walls in Philadelphia
To create an interactive learning space within the public libraries where young people can learn to use and create digital media as a way to engage with their peers and community
To analyze issues of Internet unity, governance and structure and propose strategies to increase global Internet freedom
Knight Foundation is helping libraries in 27 cities become true digital community centers that help foster informed and engaged communities with Knight’s $6.7 million Library Initiative.
Knight Foundation’s Library Initiative aims to:
Create and expand wi-fi service: Increased bandwidth and new hardware in communities such as Wichita, Kan.,Milledgeville, Ga., and Miami, Fla., allow libraries to better meet a vastly expanding need for Internet access.
Provide new equipment for public access: In places such as Tallahassee, Fla., and Conway, S.C., funds cover the costs of updated equipment, including dozens of laptops for patrons to use throughout the library. In Tallahassee alone, the new computing power is expected to mean an additional 380,000 hours of Internet access a year.
Launch mobile computer labs: Expanding the library beyond its walls, these labs help reach underserved neighborhoods. In St. Paul, Minn. the labs will offer services in Spanish, Hmong and Somali, and in Columbus, Ga. labs visit hard to reach rural areas. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, the library offers temporary, nomadic computer labs so that residents can have access even when branches close due to cutbacks.
Offer digital literacy training: As the town square becomes increasingly virtual, digital skills are vital to participating in a democracy. Knight funding supports training in using the Internet help residents improve their lives. In South Florida’s Broward County, where 70 percent of library patrons seek digital products, 12,000 people have taken classes in computer literacy, introduction to the Web and Word.
Help people find jobs and services: Lacking Internet access to search for jobs and correspond with prospective employers can leave job-seekers at a profound disadvantage. Five Knight cities are creating job centers, including Charlotte, N.C., where the center helped 22,500 residents in its first year with resume and job search assistance and more. The centers also help the unemployed get benefits, food stamps and other basic services.