City Council, District 9
Austin is only truly prosperous when our whole community has access to all the benefits our city has to offer. As I sit at the Cepeda Branch of the Austin Public Library over on Pleasant Valley Drive—working on this questionnaire, watching half a dozen people access the internet and digital books—I am witnessing the power of a robust public library system to provide access to information to a broad cross section of our community.
First, the city has a responsibility to continue to provide access to technology in libraries and community centers. Far from being obsolete, libraries are a key component of our community’s social equity. Bridging the divide also requires the provision of training and mentorship to use this technology. Programs like austinfree.net is a great examples of nonprofits doing work in this arena, and they deserve the city’s continued support. The outreach to provide this training should be community-based, in partnership with the organizations who understand a community best.
As the city moves towards a digital model of sharing information, printed and mailed correspondence and direct resident engagement will still be important for some communities. Rather than focus the city’s analog outreach efforts equally across all communities, we should instead focus on a more equitable approach. Give residents with robust access to technology to ability and option to shift to digital engagement, and use the savings derived to continue and enhance direct community engagement in other neighborhoods.