Libraries as building blocks for learning and careers in local areas across illinois – and the nation

Even Abe Lincoln would need a laptop today!


Education is FCC National Broadband Plan National Need #3. Libraries are local community anchor institutions focused directly on learning, working alongside schools, museums, cultural and social service centers, business centers, and congregations. Below are Local (A), State (B), and National (C)) resources on how to best use and demonstrate through graphics, photographs and stories the daily benefits to youth, adults, seniors, businesses, and public agencies of exploiting every community library’s human and technology resources. 

A.  Local needs -- showing the value of reading plus regular Internet connections, skills and job-support networks

While libraries are of proven value, they face budget cutbacks today. The articles below (and photographs within them) reflect citizen feedback on the need to fund libraries, especially in their mission to encourage cooperation and data exchange among public, business, and community institutions.

Chicago library cuts could affect job-seekers and children - Chicago Tribune:

Budget cuts hit suburban Chicago librariesChicago Tribune:

For an example of the value of libraries, see the “Back to School” edition of the Chicago citywide high school newspaper New Expression, published by Youth Communication Chicago at Columbia College. It is distributes 50,000 copies in high schools, libraries, and community centers. An article on You Media Centers for teens, now at three Chicago public libraries, is on page 8 of the online edition.

B. Illinois statewide

Librarians are the original search engines. See Illinois Clicks, an Illinois statewide library initiative pioneered at the Skokie Public Library. This user-friendly website has been developed by Frances Roehm, whose library-linking activities lead to her appointment by Senator John Cullerton to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Eliminate the Digital Divide program, which makes Digital Literacy grants to Public Computing and Technology Centers in low income areas. Roehm has also worked on digital inclusion for the National Institute for Museum and Library Services (see the IMLS resources below).

In Illinois, libraries in small communities normally serve areas between 500 and 5000 (small town and county library areas) to an average of about35,000 residents in the City of Chicago (which is served by 79 libraries). Libraries, along with schools, healthcare institutions and community centers, work in 48 community college districts, which serve between 175,000 to 275,000 persons in rural and urban areas of Illinois. See the Illinois community college district and county district map.

Illinois’ State Librarian is Jesse White. As the elected Secretary of State, he manages the official archives for the state, as well as many library programs assisting local and regional libraries. This also includes supporting many adult educations programs and small business assistance networks located in community colleges. See Illinois State Library – “What We Do”.

The Illinois Library Association recently held its annual conference in Rosemont to focus on many of the challenging issues faced in supporting libraries in today’s economy. The conference showcased programs that meet the needs of job seekers and community job support networks. See ILA’s project on “The Future of Illinois Library Cooperation”.

C.  National networks of libraries, and community anchor institutions

Several sites report on both the importance of libraries and future planning for them:

21st Century Skills Report August 2010

Press Releases IMLS Releases Preview of Framework for Digitally Inclusive Communities June 2011

Press Releases CA, OK, and ME to Host IMLS Digital Inclusion Forums September – October 2011

FCC and Connect To Compete Tackle Broadband Adoption Challenge | FCC.gov

Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition members work to enhance the essential services they provide to the public and underserved populations more effectively.

More than one hundred years ago, Andrew Carnegie said that he believed libraries in every town and city were sources of “real and permanent good,” as we learn from the centennial messages of the Carnegie Corporation. Today, we have the same opportunity to work with libraries, as local building blocks in “digitally inclusive communities,” to provide the foundation for safe, productive and healthy communities that can compete in our world economic environment.


The Lincoln with Laptop graphic was created by Chicago syndicated cartoonist Charles Boyce as part of The KeyPad Kid Project. Copyright 2011 May Johnny Communications and Community Life Initiative. If you would like to use this or other graphics to “show the benefits of broadband Internet” visit the KeyPad Kid on Facebook.

Tags: broadband, budget cuts, chicago, Chicago Tribune, Columbia College, community colleges, education, FCC, health, Illinois Clicks, Jesse White, jobs, libraries, schools

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