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The Indianapolis Public Library is Bridging the Digital Divide

The Indianapolis Public Library is Bridging the Digital Divide
The Indianapolis Public Library is Bridging the Digital Divide

The Indianapolis Public Library offers several programs and services to promote digital equity, address home Internet access challenges, and provide training and help using technology. These services include career centers that provide one-on-one assistance as patrons search for jobs online, free programming to help individuals learn to utilize their digital devices, and initiatives that allow Library cardholders to check out and take home Chromebooks and Wi-Fi Hotspots.

“The digital divide stems from barriers including affordability of Internet and devices, lack of skills or support to effectively engage online, and lack of exposure to new or emerging technologies,” said Marianne McKenzie, supervisor of digital inclusion. “At The Indianapolis Public Library, we address these areas with free services and programming that support lifelong learning for all ages and skill levels. We help our patrons access educational resources, sign up for government support services, and search online for jobs. Additionally, we empower exploration, innovation, and creativity through digital literacy and STEAM skill development.”

Digital Inclusion Week is an annual week of awareness and recognition taking place this year from Oct 3-7. Learn how The Library can help you get connected to the Internet or use computers and other technologies.

Computers, Internet, and Printing Services at all Library Locations
Library guests can use public computers with free Internet access at all of our locations, with or without a Library card. Public Library guests can get free Wi-Fi on their personal devices by utilizing Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) points to connect to the Internet using their own equipment. Wireless mobile printing is available, allowing patrons to send files to Library printers before arriving to pick them up.

Chromebooks and Wi-Fi Hotspots for Home Use
The Library is working to help patrons gain access to the Internet at home. Patrons can check out Chromebooks and Wi-Fi Hotspots from numerous Branch locations. Since 2021, The Library has expanded the Chromebooks and Wi-Fi Hotspots program significantly from two branches to twelve. Participating branches include College Ave, Garfield Park, Martindale-Brightwood, Eagle, Haughville, Spades Park, East 38th Street, InfoZone, Warren, East Washington, Irvington, and West Indianapolis. Devices may be borrowed for up to 21 days. Select locations may offer Chromebooks only, or have additional lending restrictions. The Library plans to expand this program to additional branches by the end of 2022. This initiative is made possible by AARP-Indiana, Google, Honda and Marlyne Sexton through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

The New Tech Learning Lab at Central Library
At the new Tech Learning Lab, located on the 1st Floor at Central Library, staff provide personal assistance to patrons using The Library's Windows 10 computers. Technology Learning Specialists will be on hand to assist with learning computer skills, accessing common online services, and using personal device such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops to access The Library's online services and programs.

Affordable Home Internet
The Indianapolis Public Library is dedicated to helping patrons find and apply for social services that can improve digital access. The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission program that helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service. This new benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. At the Tech Learning Lab at Central Library, Technology Learning Specialist are available to help patrons sign up for this program.

Northstar Digital Literacy
Seven of our Library locations are piloting Northstar Digital Literacy, a platform that provides on-demand, interactive Digital Literacy Training and Assessments to evaluate skills and set learning goals. These locations are Central Library, East 38th Street, Garfield Park, Martindale-Brightwood, Michigan Road, Spade Park, and Wayne. At Central Library, patrons can take proctored assessments and earn an official certificate. This is made possible by Comcast Heartland Region through a gift to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. The Indianapolis Public Library hopes to expand this program and include more branches next year.

Classes and Workshops for All Ages and Skill Levels
The Library offers a variety of computer, technology, and mobile skill classes. Explore everything from typing practice, 3D Printing, robotics, and graphic design. Kids and teens can take part in Online Kids Coding Club, which allows them to learn about the Scratch programming language. Professionals might be interested in LinkedIn Learning, which is free with a Library card and allows cardholders to learn relevant professional skills. The Library also has classes on how to utilize a keyboard and mouse and to improve typing skills and computer navigation.