Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski recently released a YouTube video thanking the nation’s librarians for their service, and describing libraries as “a vital partner to the FCC in one of our central missions: closing the digital divide and making sure every American can access the opportunities of broadband Internet.”
Published to coincide with the American Library Association’s annual Midwinter Conference, the video highlighted how poor digital literacy skills and a lack of Internet access pose significant challenges for millions of Americans. ALA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services have been working with Genachowski and FCC staff to support broadband adoption and digital literacy training at libraries as part of a solution to these problems. In the U.S., nearly 100 million people do not have broadband access at home, and 66 million lack basic digital literacy skills, according to an ALA release.
“For millions of Americans, libraries are the only place where they can get online. For millions more, libraries are an important complement to their at-home connectivity,” Genachowski says. “I believe libraries are more important than ever in empowering people to thrive in the digital age. Now is the time to close America’s skills gap. I hope every library and every community will join me in this commitment this year.”
ALA is currently hosting the video on its ALAWashington Office YouTube channel.
“This gap in digital literacy skills has an impact on every aspect of society: our economy, education, health care, and civic engagement,” ALA President Maureen Sullivan said in a release. “The ALA is proud to work with the FCC, IMLS and others to support our state and local libraries in making sure everyone in our communities can fully participate in the digital age.”