Stephanie Bailey-White

Stephanie Bailey-White

Make no mistake about it — Idaho is booming, and it’s not by accident. Idahoans’ hard work ethic and commitment to their neighbors have enabled our cities — and the entire state — to not just survive recessions, but to thrive and undergo rapid growth. In the last several years alone, we’ve all witnessed Idaho diversify and strengthen its economy, with tech and logistics startups staking a claim downtown Boise, building on our already strong agriculture, mining and manufacturing industries.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries celebrates this progress, and is proud to have contributed to this economic turnaround. Whether it is helping libraries with their broadband service, pre-school STEAM programs, or makerspaces (which include subjects like coding and 3D printing) our staff has worked hard to assist local libraries in their efforts enhance Idahoans’ digital skills.

With more than 8.1 million visitors to Idaho’s public libraries in 2018, it is no wonder that these institutions continue to serve a key role in bridging the digital divide here, and nationwide.

Across the country, nearly three-quarters of public libraries assist their community members with job applications and interviewing skills, 90 percent help their patrons learn basic digital skills, and just under half provide access and assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses, according to the American Library Association.

Last year in Idaho, visitors used the internet 2.9 million times in public libraries, including 1.5 million uses of library wireless networks.

As our state continues to evolve, so too will the Idaho Commission for Libraries. We’ve come a long way since our start in 1901, when our agency was established to provide books to Idahoans via horse-drawn ‘traveling libraries.’

Our story continues, and we look forward to bringing Idaho’s public libraries new and innovative programs to help visitors of all ages improve their computer literacy and learn emerging technologies.

As part of that effort, the Idaho Commission for Libraries is excited to partner with ‘Grow with Google’ - the tech company’s initiative to help create economic opportunities for Americans through digital skills training.

Next week, ‘Grow with Google’ will come to both the Boise and Idaho Falls public libraries as part of their nationwide tour to help create economic opportunities for Americans through digital skills training.

In both cities, the day will consist of workshops and one-on-one trainings for small businesses, job seekers and anyone else who wants to build on their skills. Google trainers will work with Idaho librarians to make the tools and resources from these trainings available on an ongoing basis.

All library patrons are welcome and encouraged to attend the free coaching and training events, which will be held on Monday, Aug. 5 in Boise and Wednesday, Aug. 7 in Idaho Falls.

Following the Idaho Grow with Google events, the American Library Association will open applications through Libraries Lead with Digital Skills for micro-funding to libraries throughout the state to provide programming, outreach, and education in their own communities. Libraries can select one of the Grow with Google resources to integrate into a new or existing workshop, class, or event and submit the idea via a simple application.

Whether you live in Nampa or Coeur d’Alene, our agency recognizes the need to help empower and prepare the next generation of Idahoans for the tech workforce.

We remain steadfast in our mission of assisting libraries “to build the capacity to better serve their communities.” Welcoming ‘Grow with Google’ to our state represents yet another step that we are taking to help our patrons continue their lifelong learning. We hope to see you there.

Stephanie Bailey-White is deputy state librarian with the Idaho Commission for Libraries.

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