November 29, 2011

The main branch of the San Francisco library will soon get a space dedicated to helping teens learn and explore technology. The San Francisco Public Library was among a dozen institutions nationwide selected to receive grant money to create digital learning labs for middle and high school students. The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the MacArthur Foundation is providing $100,000, and an additional $20,000 will come from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

The labs will focus on computer training, Internet and e-mail use and media production. The goal of the tech lab is to teach teens to understand and use technology and to produce projects using these skills. The lab is an important step in helping to close the city’s digital divide and teach teens the skills they need to excel in an increasingly digital and online environment.

Tech Lab Step Toward’s Closing SF’s Digital Divide

This step is just one of many recently taken by the San Francisco Library towards technology. In July, the library switched to electronic notifications for overdue books, and they are working to increase the number of public computers in several branches to meet increasing need.

While the teen tech lab is an important step forward, libraries alone can’t bridge the entire digital divide. The reality is that you can’t apply for a job, apply for college admittance or even successfully complete most K-12 homework assignments without high-speed Internet access.  We can’t fully transition to Gov 2.0 while a significant group of San Franciscans still has spotty — or no — Internet access. And a city that prides itself on inclusion can’t allow tens of thousands of families to be excluded from the growing digital economy.

The time has come to close the digital divide in San Francisco once and for all. That’s why Reset is pushing so strongly for guaranteed access to the Internet for all San Franciscans.