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New program helps SLC Library bridge the digital divide

Posted at 3:24 PM, Dec 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 23:21:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Public Library is working to bridge the digital divide.

The library is launching the “Digital Navigators” program to connect residents with online resources.

“In Salt Lake City, there’s about 13% of folks who are still not connected digitally the way that they need to be,” said Shauna Edson, the digital inclusion coordinator for the library.

People who can’t access the internet or do not know how to use virtual resources can call the hotline at (801) 524-8200 to connect with a digital navigator.

The navigator will help the caller in meeting their digital goals, while also providing follow-up assistance.

The library believes this type of service is now more important than ever.

“Right now with remote learning, the Salt Lake City School District has worked really hard to make devices and internet accessible to students, but we also need to have parents who have a computer and know how to use a computer and have an email address to support their students,” Edson said. “We have folks needing to work remotely. Multiple people, family members need stronger broadband.”

The program will reach out to underserved communities and is prepared the meet the needs of this diverse city by providing bilingual support.

“More than half of our digital navigators are fluent in Spanish,” Edson said.

The blueprints for this program will be shared with other cities in the United States and Canada as many communities rush to meet the digital needs of their residents.

The program is funded for at least six months. The library hopes the services it provides will make a significant impact.

“There’s several programs available for folks who meet income restrictions where you can have reduced or low-cost internet,” Edson said. “We’re going to work with folks to see if any of those options can provide a more long-term solution.”