All of the information you’ve been sharing has been wonderful. I can see so much potential. The problem? I’m in a rural community without broadband. We have one public access computer with dial-up. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing my teen patrons when I can’t do all of these exciting things I see on the YALSA and other blogs. What’s a country librarian to do?
– No Tech in the Country
Thank you for a great question. Location and economics are still barriers to tech access in the United States, and it impacts teens in rural as well as urban areas. According to a recent FCC report, ten percent of US homes have no access to broadband whether they can afford it or not. As the Washington Post reported, only 68% of American homes have access and “low-income and minority groups are less likely to have a broadband Internet connection in their homes.”
This is important for those of us who do have ready access to remember when instructing our peers what they “should” be doing. All too often tech in library posts take on a chastising tone. I may have just posted some information about apps, but most of my students can’t afford the smart phones or the data plan that goes along with them. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn about the latest technology developments, but then we need to look at them critically to see what best meets the needs of our teens.
You can see the lack of technology in your community as an opportunity to become the tech hub of your community. There are grants available to increase your technology. The Gates Foundation is the most famous, but they don’t accept unsolicited applications. Do any YALSA blog readers know how to get one? What about some other grants for technology in schools and libraries? Share your knowledge, folks!
You might want to look into sites like Kickstarter and DonorsChoose (for schools) that let people make small donations to support a project. Create a project and put it up online and watch the funds roll in!
Once you have computers and other devices – eReaders, tablet computers, whatever your heart desires – patrons, teens and adults alike, will come flocking to you and you can help them to bridge the economic digital divide.
Any other tips from people who have bridged the technology gap? And, as always, if you have a tech question, please email it to Megan Blakemore.