As more and more information moves online, Americans without Internet access are increasingly being left behind. OCLC's recently released infographic, "The Internet Is Important to Everyone" dramatically highlights these discrepancies.  

Picturing the Problem

The infographic provides a succinct visual summary of the issue and potential solutions, including:

  • Why Internet access matters to individuals, communities, and the U.S. as a whole
  • Who is getting left behind
  • The barriers to increasing broadband Internet adoption
  • What we can do to address the problem

Nonprofits and libraries can use the infographic to help local government and other community leaders understand why increasing information technology access and use should be a critical community-wide goal. For example, the infographic shows that using the Internet to find a job reduces the time spent unemployed by 25 percent. However, 59% of lower-income adults don't have home Internet service.

Who Gets Left Behind

Thirty percent of Americans do not have high-speed Internet access at home, according to a recently released Pew Research Center survey.

That statistic is disturbing enough, but an even starker picture emerges when you dig deeper, as the infographic does:

 

 

As you can see, Internet access and usage continue to vary hugely by age, income, education, and disability status. Those who are younger, wealthier, or more educated are much more likely to have broadband Internet access in their homes than those who are older, less affluent, and less educated. In addition, those living with a disability are much less likely to have Internet access at home or to use the Internet at all.

What We Can Do

Perpetual optimist that I am, my favorite section of the infographic is this last one, simply titled "We can do better." It highlights ways that we can all work together to address the problem.

 

 

Closing the Internet access and adoption gap is not something that nonprofits (or libraries or government or the private sector) can do alone. That means nonprofits, libraries, schools, local government, and other community leaders need to work together to develop community-wide solutions.

If you're interested in building more digitally inclusive communities, share this great resource with your local government, schools, businesses, and other digital inclusion activists today!

Learn More

Get inspired with these examples of community-wide efforts and public-private partnerships:

Images: The Internet Is Important to Everyone was developed by OCLC and made possible with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Senior Content Manager, TechSoup