Welcome to third Digital Inclusion Corps Field Report. In this column, we hear from different members of our Digital Inclusion Corps pilot team. If you’re interested in learning more about the projects, check out the page.

This installment comes from 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker Sandy Tharp-Thee, our Corps member in Oklahoma, hosted at the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.

My name is Sandy Tharp-Thee, and I am hosted as a Digital Inclusion Corps member by Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) who serve public and special libraries across Oklahoma.

It is exciting having a place to come to work to that makes you catch your breath when you walk up the steps and read the sign on the building.  The feeling never gets old.  I’ve been coming here for many years here first as a new public librarian to become certified and then as a new tribal librarian without a budget and funding needing guidance and help. It’s when you go inside that everything changes.  (It really is a library.)  The people at ODL are all about community, literacy and outreach.  I’m still trying to figure out who is more excited me or the people at ODL for the new opportunities to make a difference in Oklahoma and across the nation.  Digital Inclusion and digital literacy are not new terms at ODL, the departments here have been working on ways to help communities with basic computer skills, training the trainer, literacy, e-rate, technology, databases, government transparency, archives, grant writing, summer reading and much more.

At present, there are over 200 public libraries and 21 + Tribal (Special) libraries across Oklahoma that may be helped by ODL but may not be using all their services.    There are 38 Federally Recognized Tribes in Oklahoma that have as many or more departments as the government of a city.   As a Digital Inclusion Corp Member, I have been learning to collect information and access the community in which the tribes are located.  What I have discovered so far is that there are few choices for business and home internet services, rural communities have few places for young people to go to for Wi-Fi and be connected after school and weekends. Communities are unique and have something special that makes them have their own culture, in Oklahoma one of the strongest is work ethics and willingness to come together.  What I have heard so far is that there is a need for consistent computer classes and resources and if Wi-Fi could be made available it would be a dream come true.