Digital Immigrant at DPLAfest 2016

This is a guest post from Lori Special, a member of Cohort 2 of the Design for Learning program, reporting back from the conference she attended as one of our scholarship recipients.

The 2016 Digital Public Library of America conference (DPLAfest) was enlightening.  The work I do makes it increasingly imperative that I understand what and how information is accessed via the “interwebs” and how it can be fully utilized everyone, not just digital natives.  As a digital immigrant, I often felt out of my depth and as if I was listening to a language only those who were born there knew.  I often feel this way in this course, too.

I also felt that my needs as an immigrant user were overlooked.  There was a disconnect between those born in First World Techland (middle- to upper-middle class whites) and those in Developing Techlands (older, less educated, lower income, rural, and people of color) who often have very great barriers to access of all kinds.  This really resonated with me as I attempt to learn how to provide better web-based learning to those I serve.

All public libraries and public library staff are not equal.  How accessible are digital collections to those without or with limited internet access or bandwidth?  Is what I am serving up really what they are equipped to use in their communities?  Are the examples I am using relatable to those on the other end of the training?  Am I training to their needs or what I think they need or is privilege blinding me to those who are not like me?

Online training is a great and powerful tool, but we have to make sure that we are using this tool in a manner that fosters equity and does not exacerbate barriers.

Check out the DPLAfest recap.

About Arden Kirkland

Arden Kirkland is an independent digital librarian, providing consulting services for digital collections and online learning. Her years of work in higher education have included a focus on students’ active participation in the construction of multimedia digital collections. Other recent projects include,, and work on the Capability Maturity Model for Research Data Management. Find out more about her work at
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