…and then there were three! The Sarasota County Libraries is the third and final organization to join the third cohort of the Digital Navigator Program, sponsored by The Patterson Foundation. CareerSource Suncoast and the Multicultural Health Institute comprise the additional organizations that applied to join the Digital Navigator Program's third cohort. Four library staff completed their digital navigation training in February. The program's lead and training facilitator, Maribel Martinez, is thrilled with their participation and commitment to closing the digital divide in Sarasota County. "Nationally, libraries have been a natural point of entry for many people searching for practical solutions to their home internet connectivity struggles, lack of computing devices, and fragmented digital literacy skills," said Martinez. "Helping Sarasota Libraries staff to learn about affordable broadband solutions and computer sourcing, as well as digital skills platforms to support their patrons with a broad spectrum of computing needs, is going to make a noticeable impact in the community for a long time to come."

Heather Gorman, Digital Services Supervisor at the Sarasota County Libraries, said, "We are so thankful for the opportunity to provide digital literacy help to our library patrons through our Digital Navigator and Tech Navigator services at our libraries. Technology can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate, but we're here to offer our assistance! We understand that not everyone has access to affordable technology options, and our mission is to demystify the world of technology so that everyone has a chance to benefit from it. Technology can open up countless possibilities, and we want to be the ones to help our patrons explore them! With our Digital Navigator Training, we are dedicated to helping our patrons use technology in meaningful ways. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make this happen!"

Lisa Riley, a Librarian for Sarasota County Libraries at the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota branch in Newtown, said of the training, "I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn more about the organizations and companies that provide low-cost internet services to people. While learning about those resources, it was beneficial to learn and see those applications to be better able to help bridge the digital divide. Through the Digital Navigator training, I feel like I have great additional knowledge to complement the Tech Navigator service I have been offering for years."

We welcome Heather Gorman, Jamie Naylor, Lisa Riley, and Gina Rosabal to the Suncoast Digital Navigator Network! They are hopeful that by offering this service, they can bridge the digital divide and level the playing field when it comes to accessing and utilizing technology. "Let's make sure no one is left behind in this ever-evolving digital world! We appreciate your support – together, let's make a difference!" said the newly-minted Digital Navigators.

To learn more about digital navigation, Tech Navigator, and other library programs scgov.net/library.

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