South of Highway 6: A little more connected

Iowa City Public Library, looking west from the intersection of College and Linn Streets in Iowa City today.
Iowa City Public Library, looking west from the intersection of College and Linn Streets in Iowa City today.

If you've never been on the wrong side of the digital divide, it can be hard to get a good sense of how wide it really is -- and getting wider all the time.

If your technological gripes tend to be along the lines of how much your high-speed internet costs, or how slow your outdated smartphone now seems -- if you're the type to brag/complain to your friends about how you can't keep from checking from work e-mail on the weekends -- this week's public library announcement might not seem like such a big deal. It is.

A full 37 percent of lower-income households, and nearly half of adult Americans without a high school diploma don't use the internet, according to a recent survey. Cost is one big barrier to internet use; lack of computer skills a second. For people living in poverty, the library is third only to work and school as the place to go for internet access and to work on critical computer literacy skills.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the Iowa City Public Library will open a new remote computer access site at the Iowa City Police Department Substation in Pepperwood Plaza.

You won't need a library card to use the machines, but you'll be able to access the library's online resources.

And check your kids grades on Powerschools, and pay your electric bill, and look for jobs, and post to Facebook -- any number of the zillion-and-one things that have migrated to the internet, even though a good number of Americans in poverty still haven't.

The hours are limited -- are planned right now for Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Thursdays from 1:30-3:30 p.m. -- but it still will make it easier for people with spotty internet access to connect there, south of Highway 6. It's a great idea.



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