Last week we had the first meeting of our Digital Inclusion Working Group, comprised of people in the E-Rate and Library Development divisions of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. One of the broader goals of the Digital Inclusion Corps is to increase (or instigate) digital inclusion priorities within our host institutions and this working group certainly demonstrates that change.

When I was first asked to participate in NDIA’s pilot project, I was working for another division at the Arizona State Library. Starting work in the Digital Inclusion Corps was a big change for me not only because it was a new field of practice, but because I was learning about working in a new department as well. This need for increasing inter-agency knowledge sharing and coordination of efforts became apparent to me as I started to be more familiar with the activities of the divisions and saw how there are often overlapping goals. For example, on site visits with the Tribal Consultant to promote State Library resources, we were often asked by coworkers to provide information about E-rate, continuing education, and funding opportunities. Our employees are knowledgeable experts in their own rights, but we do not have shared messaging regarding how the State Library can empower libraries on the ground to meet their digital inclusion aims.

As this was just the first meeting, we have not yet solidified the working group’s mission or objectives, but we have identified the following potential intents:

  • Coordinate efforts and increase knowledge sharing between Library Development and E-Rate divisions to support under-connected small, rural, and tribal libraries
  • Increase institutional capacity to improve library’s physical and technology infrastructure
  • Gather and make accessible data on digital access in Arizona

Specifically, we are considering working to provide training and outreach to libraries concerning broadband and digital access topics, to establish branding or a “quick access” informational resources about digital inclusion and State Library services, and to generate data about access levels in the state. I am looking forward to learning from my coworkers and continuing to work in the digital inclusion space.

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