On Wednesday, October 18, Sandy and I co-presented at TechKnowledge 2017, a virtual conference of Library Journal and School Library Journal focusing on technology and libraries. Our Fast Learning session included a brief overview of the Digital Inclusion Corps, and a description of some of the projects that we’re working on: the media centers Sandy is installing in Oklahoma and the hotspot lending program I’m piloting with tribal libraries in Arizona. It was great to be in a digital equity space and to hear about how libraries support equity and inclusion through providing access to technology and critical engagement. I was impressed by all of the talks, particularly the Fast Learning session on Do Space, a technology access and education center in Omaha, Nebraska, the session on Broward County Library’s Veterans Connect Hotspot Program in Florida.
Although I was initially apprehensive, I enjoyed the virtual conference format for the cost-reduction (free), ease of access, and flexibility. Attendees heavily utilized the Q&A function and there was a highly active concurrent Twitter conversation. The conversations that took place were intended to deliver content to “help drive libraries and stakeholders into a proactive future, user-centric future.” Evidently, this extended to the exhibitors as well; the vendors at the conference–virtual vendor booths!–were mostly digital media platforms for public libraries. During the conference, I couldn’t help thinking that although the virtual conference creates a digital space for information sharing and connecting with others, it is inherently inaccessible to rural librarians and other stakeholders who do not have sufficient broadband speeds for video conferencing or streaming in the first place.
The closing keynote by Marnie Webb, CEO of Caravan Studios (a division of TechSoup), discussed public good technologies, which are characterized as issue-facing, citizen-owned, and impactful. She highlighted the Public Good App House, a project to create and share accessible data about social good organizations. As an information professional I find content curation for social justice to be compelling and appreciate how online platforms support these missions. I see this effort as akin to the goals of the Digital Inclusion Resource Library in that both are collecting and making accessible a wide variety of interdisciplinary materials to strategically coordinate and promote social justice activity.
Archived recordings and associated presentation materials are available here until January 17, 2018 (must register to access the materials).