Improving digital inclusion in Native communities

Today, the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) released the study, Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries (pdf). The national study is the first to provide comprehensive data on the structure, activities, and needs of tribal libraries as they improve broadband access and digital literacy in Native communities.

Key findings from the study:

  • One hundred percent of public libraries offer patrons access to the Internet, but only 89 percent of tribal libraries in the study sample were able to do so.
  • One hundred percent of public libraries offer patrons access to public computer workstations, but only 86 percent of tribal libraries in the study sample were able to do so.
  • At least 40 percent of tribal libraries in the study sample did not have a broadband Internet connection.
  • Only 42 percent of tribal libraries in the study sample were able to provide patrons with technology training, as compared to 87 percent of rural public libraries and 90 percent of all public libraries.
  • Only 15 percent of tribal libraries in the study sample received E-Rate discounts to help fund broadband connections, as compared to well more than half of public libraries.“Native communities are lagging behind the rest of America in digital access for Native citizens and thus are at a distinct socio-economic disadvantage,” said Dr. Letitia Chambers, board chair of ATALM, in a statement (doc).

Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the ATALM Digital Inclusion study draws on data from a national survey of tribal librarians conducted by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. The report makes 35 recommendations for improving digital inclusion in Native communities and provides examples of how technology is improving lives of tribal citizens.

Jazzy Wright is the Press Officer of the American Library Association's Washington Office. Email her at jwright@alawash.org.

Posted in Digital Divide, Public Libraries Tagged with: , ,
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