With support from private donors, San Diego’s public libraries help bridge the digital divide, the gap between “haves” and “have nots” in the digital age. A Pew survey found a quarter of all adults used the Internet at a library in the previous year, with numbers higher for blacks and Latinos. Respondents used library internet access and computers for important tasks, such as applying for jobs, doing homework, getting information about health care, finding out about government benefits and managing their finances.
The San Diego Public Library is a recognized leader in opening technology access to all San Diegans. The library was among the first in the nation to offer free Wi-Fi connectivity at all branches. Today, the library offers nearly 100 online databases. Library customers can use their library card to access Online Homework Help — a live, online tutoring program– and a robust collection of eBooks, eAudiobooks and eVideos, all downloadable to a variety of portable devices.
San Diego’s Libraries are the place where many are learning to use the technology they need to succeed. Branches sponsor regular computer classes and the Central Library is home to the well-equipped Wells Fargo Computer Training Center. The Central Library’s Innovation Lab offers free access to high-end computers with specialized CAD, architectural and design software and two 3-D printers. The Legler Benbough Teen IDEA Lab at the Valencia Park/Malcolm X Library provides youth the opportunity to build 21st century job skills with a multimedia center, computer lab, recording studio and educational programs that teach teens how to use this technology.
The Library Foundation is seeking donors to help bring IDEA Lab resources like these to additional communities.
Specialized technology and resources at library branches, and at the Central Library’s Oliver ICAN! Center and the Binford ICAN!, Too Center, help provide those with disabilities to connect with library resources, friends and family and to obtain needed social services. The Center’s large-print books and magazines, talking machines, Braille books, print magnification technology and computers are an essential lifeline for those with low visibility or developmental, mobility and learning disabilities. The ICan Too! Center at the Central Library provides interactive technology to help young San Diegans with disabilities.