DATE: November 27, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Catherine McElrath, Broward County Libraries
Through a cooperative venture with Comcast, Broward County Public Schools and the Urban League, Broward County Libraries is helping close the digital divide for low-income families who have not had an opportunity to learn about computers or access the Internet. The national Comcast program, Internet Essentials, has entered its second year, but this is the first year that Libraries is participating in the program locally.
“We are providing the digital literacy component of the program,” said Tara Zimmerman, grants officer for the Libraries. “It is crucial that children and families be literate in their use of the Internet so that they can make the most of its capabilities while also connecting safely.”
The Broward Public Library Foundation coordinated Broward County Libraries’ involvement in this project. Internet Essentials is for low-income families whose children get free or reduced-priced lunches under the National School Lunch Program and who live in an area where Comcast provides service. Qualifying families receive residential Internet services for $9.95 a month, plus applicable taxes, and can purchase a computer for $149.99 plus tax.
Both the Internet service and the computers are heavily discounted to below-market prices to make Internet accessible for low-income families. Additionally, there are no price increases, activation fees or equipment rental fees. Libraries also helps families get access to the free digital literacy component of Internet Essentials through training in print, online and in person.
Three County libraries provide the important educational component. Main Library offers Microsoft Office applications, the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center provides résumé and job application assistance; and South Regional/Broward College Library teaches Introductory Internet and Internet safety.
“These classes are well attended by the qualified residents in Internet Essentials, but they are also free and open to the general public,” said Zimmerman.
“We are very pleased to join forces with Comcast, the Broward Public Schools and the many other County agencies in helping our low-income families and their children stay abreast with digital technology. This can make a difference in their lives for years to come,” said Bob Cannon, director of Broward County Libraries.
For more information about Internet Essentials, call 954-357-7386.
The award-winning Broward County Libraries Division, founded in 1974, is the ninth largest library system in the nation by population served and one of the busiest, with more than 9 million walk-in customers visiting its 40 locations annually. The library has more than 3.4 million items and 2,000 computers for public use and offers hundreds of events and programs to meet the needs of the Broward County's diverse community. The library continues its strong emphasis on literacy, after-school programs and electronic access. In addition to our comprehensive web site, www.broward.org/library, which provides information about library activities, links to online catalogs, reference information and databases, customers can visit BCL WoW – Broward County Library Without Walls – for free eBooks, music, audiobooks, apps and more. Customers may also follow Libraries on Facebook and Twitter. Libraries Division also administers the services, programs, collections and exhibits of the Historical Commission.