Today, the national push to improve the nation’s digital literacy rate took a step forward when the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)–the primary source of federal support for the nation’s museums and libraries–awarded the Public Library Association (PLA) a $291,000 grant to develop an online collection of digital literacy resources that will be accessible to libraries, patrons and community-based organizations. The grant, which was provided through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, will include handouts, the development of training curricula in English and Spanish and library patron skills assessments.
PLA, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), will partner with the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies to generate the online digital literacy resource collection. PLA will launch the online resource center at the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, and the organization plans to continue demonstrations of the resource center at ALA and PLA conferences from 2013-2014.
Eva Poole, PLA president and chief of staff of the District of Columbia Public Library, said that the grant will help libraries address the lack of access to high-quality digital literacy materials.
“We are committed to helping public libraries prepare for the launch of the broadband initiative Connect2Compete this fall and an Ad Council campaign in early 2013 urging people to visit their local libraries for free online tools and digital literacy education,” said Poole.
“Digital literacy is a critical issue in American society, and the ALA Digital Literacy Task Force is delighted that PLA will be creating this portal for the resources public libraries and public librarians need in the significant work they do to bridge the digital divide in their communities,” said Rosanne Cordell, chair of the ALA’s Digital Literacy Task Force. “IMLS is providing an opportunity that can make a huge difference for the library community and American society.”
As part of the grant project, PLA will take key steps to gather and evaluate existing library resources related to digital literacy, increase library awareness by promoting the resources available and developing materials for special populations.