Without a Net

Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide

by Jessamyn C. West


Millions of Americans—35 percent of adults—live without broadband access at home. Perhaps more surprising, as of late 2009, 22 percent of adults still did not use the Internet at all. New government initiatives and services mean that Internet access and understanding is no longer an optional skill. How can libraries help close the gap?

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Cover image for Without a Net

May 2011

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 258
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Adult Services and Programs/General
  Librarian's Instructional Role/General

An easy-to-read and understand guide to the complexities surrounding technology access and adoption that focuses on the ways libraries can help close the digital divide.

Teaching novice computer users, including seniors and individuals with disabilities such as low vision or motor skills, how to do what they want and need to do online is a formidable challenge for library staff. Part inspirational, part practical Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide is a summary of techniques, approaches, and skills that will help librarians meet this challenge.

Jessamyn C. West's experience as a librarian, deeply immersed in technology culture yet living in rural America, makes her uniquely qualified to write this book. Taking a big-picture approach to the subject, she demystifies and simplifies tech training for the busy librarian, providing an easy-to-use handbook full of techniques that can be used with many different library populations. As an added bonus, she also examines the players in the library technology arena to offer firsthand reports on what works, what doesn't, and what's next.


  • Discusses the digital divide and the library's role in bridging it
  • Helps readers understand the problem, the challenges, and the players involved in resolving the digital divide
  • Describes a "toolkit" of library resources needed to get started
  • Provides proven techniques for improving technology instruction at the library
Author Info

Jessamyn C. West teaches technology classes in rural Vermont, helps run, and is the editor of She coedited Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out.



"Librarians who feel lost in the technical revolution will find this book an essential guide to help familiarize themselves with basic computer usage and terms. West explains all elementary concepts in a friendly, sympathetic way. Even the most reluctant librarians, information providers, or users will find confidence in this easy-to-understand primer"—Library Journal, Starred Review

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