Encouraging cybersafety and digital inclusion

Article image - Encouraging cybersafety and digital inclusion Using technology in an eSmart library

Libraries play an important role in bridging the digital divide by providing opportunities for Australians of all ages to appreciate the benefits of technology, regardless of their income or skill.

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s multi-year partnership with the Telstra Foundation provides the program, ‘eSmart Libraries’ at no cost.

It is a purpose-built cybersafety solution system designed to equip library staff and users with the skills to be smart, safe and responsible when using online technology.

More than 40 percent of Australia’s public libraries are signed up for eSmart Libraries with branches in metropolitan, regional and remote areas of Australia joining every week.

Albany Public Libraries in Western Australia, eSmart Coordinator Kimberley Higgins said the eSmart Libraries Framework fitted perfectly with local government library strategy helping to respond to the digital shift.

“With libraries becoming much more technology focused, it is more important now more than ever to become an eSmart Library.
“It has encouraged us to revisit the way we do things and look for improvements that will be beneficial to the staff and community.”

City of Charles Sturt Mayor Councillor Angela Keneally said the eSmart Library program helped connect the region’s libraries, helping them provide the best possible service to their users.

“Our community connects with us in many ways, one of them being through our libraries all over the city.

“Together with our focus on technology in our Digital Hub, we are also focusing on helping our residents connect in other ways.

“The eSmart Libraries system enables people from all walks of life, many from low socio-economic backgrounds and low literacy levels to benefit from eSmart Libraries.

“We welcome the opportunity to support and encourage our residents to become digitally literate and cybersafe, and to contribute to their overall wellbeing.”

The eSmart accreditation process can take each library between 12 and 24 months to complete and can be paused and progressed at any time.

Across Australia 624 public library branches are now participating in the program, with the aim to reach 100 percent of public libraries by 2018.

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Executive Director Sue McKarracher said ALIA was in full support of the program.

“It fits so well with libraries being essential community resources and physical and online spaces for people to share knowledge and ideas.

“The internet has opened so many new doors for library professionals to help library users discover inspiration and information at their fingertips.”

More information is available at www.esmartlibraries.org.au