The Takeaway Examines Libraries' Role in Bridging the Digital Divide

How Libraries Are Bridging the Digital Divide on The Takeaway

Before the Internet was an integral part of daily life, libraries were often places where people went to study, ready, or find a quiet corner. Things are different now and so is the role of the librarian. Libraries are now vibrant, busy places where people of all ages still turn for their favorite author or story time for the kids. The hub of activity in many libraries now, however, are computers and the librarians to help manage them. In a recent episode of The Takeaway, we learn about how librarians in two different environments approach the needs of their patrons, most who count on them to help overcome access issues.

Matt Katz speaks with librarian Lauren Comito who works in Brooklyn and provides a better and more nuanced view of the digital divide. It isn’t as simple as either being connected or not. He also talks with Jessamyn West, who fills the same role in a rural Vermont library. She confirms Lauren’s analysis; both fill the important role of being the trusted source that folks in the neighborhood turn to for help navigating the digital divide.

The Takeaway talks about the many factors that influence the digital divide, including cost, access to connectivity, and the learning curve. They discuss device challenges and how lack of knowledge about the Internet can expand the digital divide. Lauren and Jessamyn also describe how libraries are more than just places people go who need computers for critical access — libraries are also social and community centers where people can expand their support networks. Both Lauren and Jessamyn share stories of how they've helped patrons who needed a boost that could only come from a librarian.

Librarians have come to understand the complexities of the digital divide and finding ways for people with unique needs to overcome it.

Check out the conversation on The Takeaway - How Libraries Are Bringing the Digital Divide.