ALA collaborates with NTIA to launch, enhance DigitalLiteracy.gov

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, today launched DigitalLiteracy.gov, a gateway to class materials, research, online learning tools and more. Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) created the portal in partnership with nine federal agencies to provide librarians, teachers, workforce trainers and others a central location to share digital literacy content and practices.  In his remarks the Secretary acknowledged the important work of libraries in supporting workforce development and job training.  He also acknowledged ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Susan Hildreth for the contributions and support ALA and IMLS provided during the development of the digital literacy portal.

“Librarians know that digital opportunity depends not only on access to computers and broadband, but the skills necessary to successfully navigate the online world and be more competitive in the 21st century,” Sheketoff said. “Today’s launch represents an important first step in gathering a wide range of resources that librarians can use and expand to meet the needs of our students, families and communities.”

Libraries of all types can take advantage of the portal in multiple ways:

  • Search the “Find Educator Tools”  tab to identify ready-to-use curriculum, research and tools that can be used with staff and volunteers to deliver patron training;
  • Add content and connect with other practitioners via the “Collaborate” tab;
  • Point library patrons to the “Learn the Basics” tab to access tutorials and basic learning games and tools;
  • Use the “Learn Job Skills” tab to assist patrons in their job searches  and workforce development training; and
  • Learn about successful digital literacy projects in communities across the country via the “In the Community” tab.

The ALA Office for Information Technology Policy’s (OITP) newly formed digital literacy taskforce roster (pdf) also will be reviewing the portal to identify opportunities to add library content and resources.

“We know libraries of all types are engaged in digital literacy activities,” said OITP Assistant Director Marijke Visser.  “We encourage library staff to share their knowledge and expertise.  Take advantage of this resource and opportunity to increase the visibility of libraries’ contributions.”

DigitalLiteracy.gov was created by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in partnership with the Department of Education and other federal agencies: the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Federal Communications Commission, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor.  The portal was developed in response to a specific recommendation in the National Broadband Plan to address barriers to broadband adoption and utilization.

Maryland’s two U.S. senators, Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin, were both enthusiastic about the potential of the digital literacy portal as a tool for librarians, educators, and community members who teach digital literacy skills.  Mikulski sees it as one tool that will help close the digital divide by providing all people with the skills they need to take advantage of the opportunities made possible by high-speed broadband and the Internet.

About Jenni Terry

Jenni Terry was a press officer with the Washington Office.

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