A nearly full charging bar is seen within a sign shaped like a cloud. Below the cloud are six cables, three on the left and three on the right.

DIGITAL EQUITY AND INCLUSION

In 1986, Toledo Lucas County Public Library opened one of the first microcomputer labs in the state and, in 1996, began offering reliable internet access to residents in all 20 of our locations. We have always, and will continue to be, leaders in ensuring that community members are able to reach critical technological resources at no cost. Today, the Library has outlined six strategic priorities, two of which center around providing access to technology and providing technology skills development to our neighborhoods. To achieve these goals, we will continue to provide our high-quality tech services internally, while also externally advocating for equitable tech access in all of Lucas County.

In late summer 2021, while the U.S. Congress debated the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, key community members took note of the historic national investments being proposed for tech and broadband. We, as a community, then began asking ourselves: How will Lucas County handle these investments, and do we know the current state of connectivity in our community? Given these unanswered questions, the Library began convening the “Greater Toledo Digital Equity Coalition” (GTDEC), a cross-sector alliance composed of 50+ individuals representing various community and professional sectors, (participating organizations are listed below.)
 
The original intent of the GTDEC was to further understand the specific hardships individuals and families must continuously overcome when accessing or using essential technological services. To better quantify this local issue, the GTDEC commissioned Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development to conduct a Lucas County digital equity gap analysis in April 2022. The study was in two phases: community asset scanning (what tech resources are locally available) and community surveying (what tech resources do you – the community member – have or need.)
 
Additionally, the study looked at two main categories: adoption and availability. Availability is a community member having a broadband provider who offers internet at their home. Adoption is that the broadband service and available tech (tablets, laptops, desktops) are affordable, and that community members possess the digital literacy skills needed to use both the internet and tech to their benefit.
 
The GTDEC is now working within the confines of four specific goals.
  1. Digital connectivity
  2. Digital literacy and capacity building
  3. Device accessibility
  4. Community network building
These goals, along with outlined actionable steps, can be found in the Lucas County Digital Equity Gap Analysis dropdown below. The Lucas County Digital Equity Gap Analysis was launched with financial investments from the Library Legacy Foundation, the City of Toledo Information Technology Department, and Lucas County Commissioners, with support from the Toledo Community Foundation.
 
Participating members:

Actual Reality Technologies, Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development, Cherry Street Mission, City of Toledo, Communications Workers of America, Goodwill Industries, Imagination Station, LISC Toledo, Lucas County Commissioners, Lucas County Department of Planning and Development, Lucas County Family and Children First Council, Lucas County Job and Family Services, Lucas Metropolitan Housing, Mercy Health, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Office of Representative Marcy Kaptur, Office of Senator JD Vance, Office of Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio AFL-CIO, Owens Community College, Premier Bank, ProMedica, Senior Centers Inc., The Arts Commission, The Junction Coalition, Toledo City Council, Toledo Design Collective, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Toledo Metroparks, Toledo Public Schools, Toledo Tomorrow

The Lucas County Digital Equity Gap Analysis was completed in May 2023. Community members and local organizations are free to utilize this information to advocate for greater connectivity and access to digital resources in our neighborhoods.
In February 2023, Toledo Lucas County Public Library was named the Northwest Ohio Regional Digital Inclusion Alliance lead (RDIA) by BroadbandOhio. Given the passage of the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, the State of Ohio will be creating a “State Digital Equity Plan” that will be submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which will inform them on how and where to make key technology or broadband investments in Ohio/our region.
In working with Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development, we will be hosting the following community listening sessions in this 22-county footprint…
  • Toledo/Lucas County Listening Session
  • Bowling Green/Wood County Listening Session
  • Findlay/Hancock County Listening Session
  • Bucyrus/Crawford County Listening Session
  • Archbold/Fulton County Listening Session
  • Defiance/Defiance County Listening Session
  • Clyde/Sandusky County Listening Session
  • Paulding/Paulding County Listening Session
  • Ottawa County Listening Session
All sessions are now complete. Thanks for your participation!
Toledo Lucas County Public Library is one of five regions conducting this work in Ohio. If you are a community member or community-centered organization in the outlined red region below, please feel free to contact us via the dropdown below for more information on getting involved.

The Northwest Ohio Regional Digital Inclusion Alliance Report was completed in October 2023. Community members and local organizations are free to utilize this information to advocate for greater connectivity and access to digital resources in our neighborhoods all across Northwest Ohio.

In August 2023, Toledo Lucas County Public Library joined Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development, along with TMACOG, Mercy Health, Lucas County/Office of the Lucas County Commissioners, Communication Workers of America, the Office of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and Lucas Metropolitan Housing to form “Team Lucas County” as part of BroadbandOhio’s Community Accelerator Program (CAP).
 
CAP is an application-based opportunity to help communities across Ohio leverage historic broadband infrastructure funding for community-driven internet expansion projects. CAP is a collaborative effort between BroadbandOhio, Heartland Forward, the Benton Institute, and The Ohio State University Office of Extension.
 
Community planning and capacity-building support offered through this initiative will help more villages, cities, and counties – regardless of size or staffing – prepare for funding opportunities from both state and federal levels by developing local plans for how to expand broadband access.
 
In addition to “Team Lucas County,” Ashtabula, Paulding, Union, Henry, Monroe, and a combined Hocking/Athens/Perry County teams were also selected. More information is coming soon.
Affordable Connectivity Program & LifeLine
As of 6/1/2024, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has ended due to a lack of funding from Congress. Despite this $30 subsidy going away, the LifeLine program is still available to community members. This program has more specific qualifications and smaller discount rates than the ACP. You can learn more about LifeLine here.
 
Mobile Hotspots

Bring the internet home. Check out free, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots at the Library. Learn more here.

Computer Learning Skills

Sharpen or learn a new computer skill, for free, at your local Library. Need to create an email account? Operate Google Sheets? Or up your social media skills? Learn more here.

Getting Your Business Rolling, Mercy Health Innovation
Getting Your Business Rolling is a series of free classes focusing on strategic decision-making for small businesses/small business owners. During these courses, attendees will also review the digital tools needed to assist your business. Those who complete all of the classwork will receive a free laptop computer. This program is for adults 18 years and older. For more information, email mlreichert@mercy.com

Join the Greater Toledo Digital Equity Coalition or submit a community tech/broadband resource by completing the form(s) below.

Join  Us

Submit a Resource