Digital Access Will Expand with New Lexington Public Library Initiative

Additional Mobile Computing Labs Will Focus on Underserved Communities

LEXINGTON, KY. (October 9, 2009) – Lexington residents will be able to gain computer skills and expanded digital access with two new mobile computing labs at the Lexington Public Library, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

In the last year alone, public computer usage at the Lexington Public Library has increased 25 percent – and attendance at mobile computer lab classes has nearly doubled to 4,192 students. With the addition of two more mobile labs – bringing the total number to three – the library will expand the number of classes significantly.

The mobile labs also will increase the library’s reach, taking computer training to retirement complexes, neighborhood centers and community programs.

“The library has always been about information and making it accessible to everyone. This new mobile lab will help us accomplish an age-old goal in new ways, not only by helping to make sure everyone has access to electronic information but also by allowing the library to bring computer classes out into the community," said Larry Smith, chair of the Lexington Public Library Board of Trustees.

The mobile labs are particularly important in today’s economy, when many jobseekers must search and apply for jobs online, said Meg Jewett, chair of the Lexington Public Library Foundation.

"Now more than ever, people need to have Internet access and updated computer skills to apply for and get jobs. For most people, it's a matter of survival – putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads,” Jewett said. “Knight Foundation's support means the Lexington Public Library can significantly expand its capacity to connect people who need it most with vital job skills, resume help and computer training.”

The $82,000 grant is part of a $3.3 million Knight Foundation initiative benefiting library users in 12 communities across the United States. The effort reinforces the findings of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, which assessed how communities across the country receive news and information. The Knight Commission, which issued a report Oct. 2 available at knightcomm.org, argues that the lack of equal access to quality information threatens democracy in America. It recommends funding public libraries as centers of digital and media training.

“Libraries are the greatest providers of free Internet – offering residents access to the critical news and information they need to make decisions about their lives,” said Laura Williams, Lexington program director for Knight Foundation. “Through this initiative, we hope to augment libraries’ roles as vital community centers while helping to create engaged and informed communities.”

Each mobile lab will have 10 laptop PCs and wireless Internet connections. With the grant, an additional trainer will be hired to expand computer training and help people seeking employment to conduct job searches.

About the Lexington Public Library

The Lexington Public Library transforms and enriches people's lives by serving as the community's
connection to information, ideas and imagination. The library loans more than two million books and other materials each year, while welcoming more than 1.8 million customers.

About the Lexington Public Library Foundation

The Lexington Public Library Foundation was founded in 1997 to provide leadership for the library's fundraising program and to serve as an advocacy group to promote the Library. Members of the Library Foundation Board of Directors commit their support to enhancing the quality and range of library services beyond the level that is provided by public funding alone.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

 

Contacts:

  • Marc Fest, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677; fest@knightfoundation.org
  • Doug Tattershall, Lexington Public Library, 859-231-5515, dtattershall@lexpublib.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.