An IFLA-led session at the 2022 World Summit on the Information Society Forum explores the ways libraries continue to innovate their digital inclusion initiatives – leveraging public access to support meaningful connectivity for their communities.

The 1-hour virtual session will take place on 28 April, 13.00-14.00 CEST (11.00-12.00 UTC).

2020, 2025 and 2030 are among the key deadlines set out for achieving universal connectivity and digital inclusion targets – expressed in such metrics as internet penetration, its use and affordability, and digital skills among the world’s population. To be able to deliver on these ambitions, innovative and user-centric digital inclusion models are vital.

Public access – shared no-cost (or low-cost) access to the internet and information and communications technologies (ICTs) in places such as libraries and community centers – has long been a helpful asset in the digital inclusion policy toolbox. These facilities have helped many go online for the first time, and to stay connected – whether as their main or only way of getting online, or as a supplemental source of access to an inexpensive and reliable connection. They help offer users access to digital skills training and support, and to a broader spectrum of ICTs.

As early as 2003/2005, WSIS codified these approaches within Targets 1 and 4, and Action Lines C3 and C4. Now, nearly two decades later, public access points have evolved and continue to help generate unique value for their communities.

What do these public access points look like today, and what lessons have we learned about this easy-to-implement yet powerful digital inclusion model – lessons which can help bring meaningful connectivity to more people around the world today?

This session focuses on recent innovation in shared and public access, drawing on the experiences of public and community libraries and resource centers. It highlights:

  • innovative approaches to providing shared connectivity, particularly for underserved user groups,
  • original services enabled by public access, tailored to the needs of their communities,
  • good practices and ways to maximise the capacity for public access provision.

Join the discussion hear about intervention designs, impacts and lessons learned from libraries in different world regions – and share your own experiences!

  • Ab. Velasco (Manager, Innovation; Innovation, Learning & Service Planning – Toronto Public Library): innovations in TPL’s digital privacy, digital safety and algorithmic literacy programming;
  • Shadreck Ndinde (Lecturer, National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe Library Association): the Rural Libraries Resources Development Project – mobile outreach and digital inclusion;
  • Arjun Maharjan (Senior ICT Coordinator, READ Nepal): Tech Age Girls Nepal – tackling the digital gender gap, for empowerment and development;
  • Ramune Petuchovaite (Manager, Public Library Innovation Programme, Electronic Information for Libraries/EIFL): building public librarians’ capacity for creative use of public access.

We look forward to seeing you at WSIS 2022!