Libraries without Borders has been offering some interesting information/communication tools in Minnesota, as outlined in their blog. (This story may sound familiar to folks who attended the https://blandinonbroadband.org/2020/10/06/broadband-2020-oct-6-day-one-digital-showcase/Digital Showcase portion of Broadband 2020.)
Libraries Without Borders is committed to expanding access to information, particularly to communities that need it most. To advance our mission, we constantly re-imagine how our work can take shape in order to reach remote, isolated, disconnected, and disinvested communities. LWB first brought this vision to Minnesota through our Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI), where we seek to bridge the digital divide and provide access to educational resources, one laundromat at a time. However, in many suburban and rural parts of the United States, laundromats are not common nor are they readily accessible. Given this reality, LWB jumped at the opportunity to partner with manufactured housing communities, redesigning the Wash and Learn model for MHCs and effectively bringing information, internet access, and educational opportunities to under-resourced residents in rural and suburban areas.
After conducting a preliminary assessment, LWB hosted a town hall-style meeting at Park Plaza, which gave residents the opportunity to express their vision for a community learning and literacy hub. Through participant feedback at the town hall, LWB discovered that only half of Park Plaza residents had access to a basic internet connection. While residents are aware of the wide array of resources that libraries have to offer, over 30% of people within the community reported having difficulty accessing a library facility. This is a gap that we hope to fill by increasing resident’s accessibility to a library, in effect, by bringing one directly to them.