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Digital Navigators Connecting Community

Salt Lake City community members have been coming to the City Library to use public computers or attend computer classes for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic response has shut down or severely reduced the ability of libraries and other community organizations to offer their existing digital inclusion programs. Millions of Americans need support from digital inclusion programs to get connected with affordable home internet, find affordable computing devices, and learn basic digital skills.

The City Library’s new Digital Navigators program is the latest way the Library is working to combat Salt Lake City’s “digital divide.” The program provides local residents with direct assistance to address their digital connectivity needs. The City Library recognizes the life changing significance of access to digital resources. A home internet connection opens up so many possibilities that some might take for granted: online healthcare, banking, applying for jobs, remote learning, and communicating with friends and family, just to name a few.

Digital Navigators can help connect people to free or low-cost internet service and devices and help with basic computer skills and training, including online privacy and security. Throughout the duration of this program, which will run through July of 2021, the Library will be working with University Neighborhood Partners, Suazo Business Center, and Catholic Community Services

My name is Rosalia Rosas and I am the Digital Navigator at unp.

I was born in the state of California and came to Utah when I was 14-years-old so that my mom and stepfather could find jobs. We were sad to leave our friends and school in California, but my parents got jobs quickly. And, in a few years, their dream of buying a home came true. I graduated high school and got married, and my husband bought a house in Glendale. I have been living in the Glendale Community for about 14 years. 

I have four kids and they went to Mountain View Elementary School and Glendale Middle School. I know many people in the Glendale community because I worked at Mountain View as a group leader in the afterschool program. I would help students with their homework and offer enrichment programs like computers, art, science, physical education, and music. I went on to become a teacher’s assistant in the kindergarten, and then a substitute teacher with Head Start. I have almost finished my Child Development Associates certificate to become a Head Start teacher.

I have been involved with UNP for about a year. I started working part time, running a small group doing activities with parents and their 4- to 5-year-old children in the UNP Hartland Partnership Center’s Head Start classroom. Then, because of COVID-19, I couldn’t do it anymore.

Now, I work as a Digital Navigator for UNP. I will be able to help families get computers and internet access at low or no cost. I can also help families learn to use computers and navigate the internet for work, school, and other things. I love doing this work because it gives me a chance to support my community.

Content provided by Shauna Edson, Digital Inclusion Coordinator, The Salt Lake City Public Library 
& Rosalia Rosas, Digital Navigator, UNP

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number LG-248566-OLS-20, with support from Google Fiber and Friends of the City Library.