ARPA News and Updates
State Library of Ohio Board Awarded A $60,000 ARPA Grant to OPLIN For A Digital Literacy Training Program
The State Library of Ohio Board recently awarded a $60,000 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant to Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) to provide statewide access at public libraries to a digital literacy training program. Federal ARPA funds, received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), will be used to purchase licenses to Northstar Digital Literacy for all Ohio public libraries.
Northstar Digital Literacy begins with assessments, identifying the necessary competencies that individuals should meet concerning different digital tools and tasks. Those competencies are supported by instruction, whether online or in a classroom setting, depending on individual learning styles and needs. After guided study, learners can take proctored tests to earn certification showing mastery of the necessary competencies. The program then guides each learner through building on what they’ve learned, encouraging continued learning.
“To succeed in the information age, people need the digital skills to make use of online services and computer resources, and public libraries have long worked to meet the particular needs of their communities,” said Don Yarman, OPLIN Executive Director. “Northstar will be a valuable resource, helping library staff develop their expertise and confidence, providing proven resources for in-person and on-line instruction, and empowering each library to reach out to its community as a leader in digital literacy education.”
To ensure successful implementation within libraries, OPLIN will utilize an open staff position to hire a program manager. OPLIN will also fund web-based training sessions by Northstar Digital Literacy for local public library staff at the onset of the program launch in early 2022. Additional training will be conducted by OPLIN staff.
“The program manager will help local libraries integrate Northstar into their current services,” Yarman said. “Each community has different needs, and the program manager will help libraries use Northstar’s many resources in ways that are most productive. Ohioans will be able to participate in Northstar learning at the library or remotely through library websites, whichever is most convenient for them.”
“While libraries have worked to bridge the digital divide for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic uncovered the depth of the divide in Ohio,” said Wendy Knapp, State Librarian of Ohio. “Using ARPA funds to provide the tools of Northstar Digital Literacy to all of the state’s public libraries will bolster the great work already being done by so many and provide a proven framework for implementation throughout the state.”
“The State Library of Ohio is committed to allocating ARPA funds for statewide programs that benefit all types of libraries,” stated Evan T. Struble, Associate State Librarian for Library Development. “I want to express my gratitude to the State Library Board for supporting this proposal, geared toward the public library sector, as it will have a true statewide reach. I’m excited to see the launch of this digital literacy initiative—it dovetails well with Ohio Governor DeWine’s broadband/workforce development initiatives, while serving as a nice complement to the State Library’s own Guiding Ohio Online program.”
OPLIN provides broadband internet connections and related information services to Ohio public libraries. OPLIN’s primary mission is to ensure that all Ohio residents have fast, free public internet access through the 251 independent local public library systems in Ohio, as well as the use of high-quality research databases not freely available online. OPLIN is an independent agency within the State Library of Ohio.