The Atlantic Spotlights BPL on Role Libraries Play in Digital Skills Training

Dominique Agee and Maurice Harley teach computer skills to
patrons at Ensley Library

New York-based The Atlantic magazine spotlighted the Birmingham Public Library System in an article highlighting how libraries around the U.S. are helping provide patrons the digital skills needed in today's society.

The article by Atlantic Re:think, in a series called Ideas on Main, is titled "America Has a Digital Skills Gap. Libraries Can Help Fix It." It went live online on Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

Writer Jordan Teicher and art director Drew Campbell led a team representing Atlantic Re:think, who spent three days at BPL in mid-May 2019. The Atlantic's focus on BPL's computer training came as a a result of a partnership BPL began with Google after hosting the first Grow With Google workshops in Alabama last August. Since those workshops, BPL has hosted several free Google classes.

Jordan Teicher and Calvester Sanders

Teicher sat in on computer workshops at the Central Library and Ensley Branch Library led by Maurice Harley, BPL training coordinator. He interviewed BPL patrons, including Calvester Sanders, who was promoted to lead the housekeeping staff at the Redmont Hotel thanks to computer skills she gained from free computer workshops at the Central Library. Sanders credits attending free introductory computer classes at BPL for allowing her to overcome a fear of computers and better manage her employees' schedules.

"I don't know why I was afraid of coming into the computer world," Sanders says. "Now I love it."

The Atlantic also interviewed BPL Executive Director Floyd Council and other BPL staffers about the role that BPL can play in helping patrons learn new skills and achieve success.

Since April of 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King mailed a copy of his historic Letter from Birmingham Jail to The Atlantic in New York, Birmingham has shared a long historic relationship with The Atlantic, Council said.

"After The Atlantic featured BPL in November 2016 as a Birmingham treasure, iconic photos of our Linn-Henley Library have become a core part of our branding thanks to Atlantic reporters and photographers," Council said.

As part of over 400 free programs being offered during its 2019 Summer Learning activities, BPL is offering several free Google workshops during the month of July. The classes include how to use Google to search for jobs, Google email, Google Docs, and Google Sheets & Presentation.

#GrowWithGoogle #TheAtlantic