Public Access Technology Needed to Build Strong Communities

The following is a press release from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Having trouble viewing this e-mail? Read it online at

March 10, 2011

IMLS Press Contacts
Mamie Bittner,
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Natasha Marstiller,
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Public Access Technology Needed to Build Strong Communities

IMLS Responds to National Broadband Plan Recommendation to Develop Guidelines
for Libraries and Community-Based Organizations

Washington, DC—“What are the characteristics of a successful digitally-inclusive community?" Over 70 organizations with deep knowledge about public access technology and the diverse educational and information needs of communities will spend the next few weeks considering that question.

These organizations will contribute to IMLS's response to the National Broadband Plan, which called on the agency to develop tools for communities to use to assess their needs for public access technology. The Plan recognized the essential role of libraries and community- based organizations in expanding broadband adoption and use.

“We know that millions of people depend upon public access technology in libraries and community-based organizations to address fundamental civic needs, from finding work and getting an education to accessing government services and locating health information,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “Working together we will develop tools that communities can use to make smart decisions to meet the complex information needs of the diverse American public.”

IMLS is working in partnership with the University of Washington Information School and the International City/County Management Association to engage a broad range of stakeholders in the development of a framework that will help public and private funders make critical investments in public access technology. These 70 organizations will be building on work begun by a 16-member working group that met in Washington, DC in January to identify the principles, elements, and characteristics of organizations and communities that foster digital inclusion.

A subsequent phase of the process, estimated to be in late spring and summer of 2011, will include a combination of a call for public comments and town meetings in order to solicit additional input and to highlight promising practices.

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About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit