Bridging the Digital Divide

Library Corner article in the Beacon August 10, 2020

Bridging the Digital Divide at the White Lake Community Library

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the importance of access to communication technology and the internet for everyone. The pandemic is exposing the growing gap between the connected and the non-connected, especially with many families struggling to participate in work or school online.

 The library has long been a place where people can access free Wi-Fi and public computers, and more recently it began providing 24/7 Wi-Fi in the parking lot and offering free computer tutoring sessions. Thanks to two new funding awards, the library is now taking additional steps to increase digital equity in our community.

 A CARES Act grant through the Library of Michigan and the Institute of Museum and Library Services will be covering the cost of hotspots and laptops for patrons to borrow and use at home. The goal is to have these items ready for check-out by early September. We are one of 294 libraries from around the state who received a portion of the $750,925 in awards for digital inclusion.

 An American Library Association initiative with the Public Library Association and Grow with Google is providing the resources the library needs to assist young job seekers in the current job market. A four-week series of virtual workshops has been developed and will start this week.  Planned topics include how to prepare a resume and how to search and apply for jobs online. For more information about these free courses and how to participate in them, visit the Job Readiness tab at wlclib.org or call 231-894-9531.

 FUN FACT: The Muskegon County response rate for the 2020 Census is 71.9%. That puts us in the top 10% of counties nationwide, tied with Ventura County, California. Michigan’s statewide response rate is 68.8% which makes us 4th in the nation. Way to go, everyone! Not that we’re competitive or anything, but both the City of Montague (73.7%) and the City of Whitehall (75.7%) are helping to raise the average. If you have not yet responded to the census, please take a few minutes to do so. Your response will help shape the future of our community, including the library, for the next ten years or more.

 About White Lake Community Library
The White Lake Community Library is a district library serving all residents within the boundaries of the Whitehall District Schools.  Located at 3900 White Lake Drive in Whitehall, the library provides a broad range of digital and print materials and audiovisual items for all ages. The library also offers a variety of (currently virtual) programs for children, teens, and adults, as well as wireless internet access and computers for public use.  For more information, visit the library website at wlclib.org or call 231-894-9531.

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 libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.