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Digital Literacy in the Community

Calgary Public Library

Innovation Leader: Carolyn Reicher, Customer Service Manager, Adult Programming, carolyn.reicher@calgarypubliclibrary.com

Problem Statement

In a society increasingly dependent on technology, Calgarians require increased knowledge and skill in using computers. For employment, communication, social engagement and personal interest, there is an overwhelming need for digital literacy in our community. Despite this need, and the interest of adult learners in upgrading their technology skills, many members of vulnerable populations are still unable to access training programs due to barriers of cost, mobility and childcare.

Innovation

Digital Literacy in the Community (DLIC) is a CPL program that takes highly successful and popular computer training modules “on the road” to new audiences. Partnering with community agencies who serve barriered learners, the DLIC program provides 17 different computer training modules for various skill levels in the partner agency locations. A mobile computer lab is utilized to offer small, highly supportive classes in an environment that is not only accessible, but supportive of the learners’ needs. All classes are free and include library membership for those who do not currently have it. Child care is offered through the partner agencies. Five of the modules are specialized for job seekers and those who need career development. Classes are taught by experienced library staff who have enhanced training in adult learning principles and working with barriered learners.

Progress

Since it began in July 2010, the program has grown exponentially, with over 90 classes either delivered or scheduled. The number of committed partner agencies has grown from 3 in 2010 to 10 in 2011. Learners have increased their understanding of digital literacy, including the use of the Internet, Email, Microsoft Office, social media, and employability as it relates to the Internet and online resources. Learners’ confidence in using digital resources is another critical outcome of the program. Additionally, the program has provided information and linking to further affordable computer training in the city so that learners can continue their skill development.