Fair access and equal opportunity to digital media is a primary objective of the ZB Library, and that is why it was recently chosen to be a leading library for the Edge Initiative project.
With this designation, residents of the Zion-Benton community will benefit from a thinner “digital divide” — economic inequality among communities that prevent or limit connectivity and access to the Internet, technology and communication.
“We continuously evaluate how well we serve our customers,” said Nann Blaine Hilyard, director of the library. “That includes technology, from hardware to content.”
The Edge Initiative is a nationwide initiative designed to assess public library technology and assist public libraries in determining their technology services and needs to improve and refine those services.
“Through Edge, we assessed our current services and were pleased that we exceeded expectations with the number of devices available, our bandwidth capacity and the amazing resources we offer,” said Tara Caldara, assistant library director.
The driving force behind the Edge Initiative is a set of benchmarks that libraries use to evaluate their current public technology services. ZBPL identified focus areas and created a plan to improve its technology services. These areas include engaging the community about technology needs, connecting community resources and making resources more accessible for people with disabilities.
“Our biggest challenges are money and time,” Caldara said.
The assessment is one component of the Edge program, and ZBPL has received customized tools to elevate its strategic planning, shape the story of the library and communicate its value.
By exploring community goals and identifying the ones in which the library can assist in achieving, the library can make a positive difference in the Zion-Benton community in the areas of education, health, economic development and more. These are the higher ideals of today’s public library: to provide all people with the opportunity to enrich and improve their lives through open access to information, communication and technology services.