Branching the Digital Divide: Technology as the Gateway to Curiosity

4 min read

By Vanessa Craig

Moreno Valley is a city nestled in between the Coachella Valley, Lake Perris, and the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California. The scenic town of Moreno Valley has a public library that serves their population of about 200,000. With only one building to serve its residents, Ivorie Franks, the library’s director struggles with providing a sufficient amount of print material to serve their population.

To save space, Ivorie is attempting to develop a digital collection for her community that replicates the print collection. However, the patrons of Moreno Valley have a variety of different technology skill levels. Many community members do not have computers or internet connection at home.

Ivorie is the driving force behind helping branch tackle this digital divide. She is working alongside her staff to make their patrons more comfortable with technology and eResources. “The key is to include various staff members in the process of educating library patrons about digital library resources,” proposes Ivorie. Moreno Valley librarians work hard to make themselves present at all sorts of community events in order to make community members aware of the digital resources. They attended career day events, the city’s Easter egg hunt, hold computer classes at the library, and present to local businesses, nonprofits, and schools.  To market their eResources they promote on social media, and post icons to their resources on their public computers’ homepages.

The diligent Moreno Valley Public Library staff witness small victories of their efforts all the time. Anytime a patron is able to find the information they require is a success. Something as simple as, “a high school student finding information about a philosopher or scientist via Biography in Context. Another example is an elementary school student finding content about sloths in National Geographic Kids. The latest trend in our library is seeing adult library patrons access GVRL for computer eBooks and interview resources. These success stories are the most rewarding and occur on a daily basis,” notes Ivorie.

Branching the digital divide in a community is not easy. Similar to many U.S. public libraries, patrons come in with a variety of technological knowhow and devices. The trick is to be able to “provide equal access to modern technologies while addressing the knowledge and skill level differences of each library patron.” Additionally, user behaviors and technologies keep changing and librarians have to be prepared to adjust to their users’ changed behavior.

“[The] library patron education of digital content is an ongoing process. Library staff has to be flexible to the needs of library patrons,” according to Ivorie. In order to be successful; listen to your patrons, be willing to hear the positive and negative feedback, monitor technology trends, and develop a technology plan.

Some final words of advice from Ivorie to help libraries in similar situations, “I think it is important for librarians to keep moving forward. Librarians prefer structure, and at times, rigidity causes librarians to hold on to user models that no longer serve library staff and patrons. Think about changing the layout of the library website frequently to keep remote users interested in the resources the library has to offer. Think about where digital library content can be marketed outside of the library facility. Trying new things will allow digital library usage to grow and bring in new user groups to the library.”

If you need help marketing your Gale Resources, contact to Customer Success today to discuss best practices for driving usage, training, resource promotion, usage analysis, web design, and more.

54% of public library users visit the library to research topics that interest them. Our eBook Specialists are always available to help you fill gaps in your nonfiction eBook collection. Reach out today to learn more about customizing your collections for your patrons.


[/alert-info][alert-info]Vanessa Craig

About the Author

Vanessa is a Customer Success Manager for public libraries at Gale. She has experience working in public and academic libraries which led to her receiving her MLIS in 2012. Vanessa is a confessed chocoholic, avid baker, Harry Potter fanatic, and passionate world traveler.


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