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How libraries are responding to the second digital divide

An alarming trend is emerging in the United States: In addition to lacking equal access to computers and the Internet, a growing number of Americans do not have the online technology skills needed to complete homework assignments, find jobs, use government services and a host of applications only available online. As a result, the new skills-based “digital divide” is exacerbating and perpetuating existing social divisions between the haves and have-nots, preventing the nation’s most vulnerable groups from thriving in the digital world.

Over the past 20 years, libraries–as welcoming institutions to students, parents, job-seekers and seniors alike–have worked to close the digital gap by offering innovative technology services to Americans wanting to learn how to type, find online applications and navigate research databases. While school and public libraries have made great strides in shrinking the digital divide, what are the best ways that schools, local governments and community organizations can support libraries in bridging the new skills-based digital divide?

On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 10:00—11:00 a.m., education, government and library experts will discuss the skills-based digital divide during “Responding to the Second Digital Divide,” a National Press Club briefing that will explore the ways that governments, schools and communities can better support libraries in bridging the growing skills-based digital divide. The event, which takes place in Washington, D.C., will be open to the public.

Panel leaders will detail effective tactics to sustain and improve Internet accessibility in libraries and discuss future directions for public access to information. The event coincides with the release of data showing that the digital divide is expanding, affecting far more than the disconnected–according to the report, one-fifth of people with advanced online access have insufficient levels of digital skills.


  • Clarence Anthony, executive director, of National League of Cities
  • John B. Horrigan, communications and technology policy consultant and author of “The Essentials of Connectivity” report
  • Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director, District of Columbia Public Library, and former chief librarian of the Brooklyn Public Library
  • Barbara Stripling, president, American Library Association, and former director of school library programs for the New York City Department of Education

The panel will be moderated by Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington Office. The event will not be recorded.

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Jazzy Wright

Jazzy Wright is a former press officer of the Washington Office.

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