At its annual forum in Chicago, the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) recognized the Saint Paul Public Library as a Top Innovator in its 2013 awards program. The Saint Paul Public Library won recognition in the Economic and Workforce Development category for the Northstar Digital Literacy Project, an initiative led by the library and the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium.
The 2013 Top Innovators were chosen by a panel of expert judges who considered more than 140 applications. ULC honored a diverse cross-section of its members for innovative programs that offer everything from hands-on science projects to community gardens, often delivering their resources in unique ways. “These innovations continue to represent the leadership and value of high-performing public libraries,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton.
The goal of the Northstar Digital Literacy Project is to help people acquire basic computer skills and demonstrate mastery to prospective employers. “We’re very gratified to be recognized for this collaboration with the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium. The Northstar Project is helping people in our community have a better chance of getting jobs and getting ahead,” said Saint Paul Public Library Director Kit Hadley.
The Northstar Project offers free, online assessments of basic computer skills in six modules: basic computer use, world wide web, Windows 7, Mac OS X, e-mail, and Microsoft Word. Anyone can take the tests online at digitalliteracyassessment.org . Spanish-language and close-captioned versions are available. At the end of each test, the user receives the results, listing the skills that have been mastered and the areas that need improvement.
Sponsoring organizations offer certificates to learners who achieve a passing score on an assessment. Many learners use the certificate to help in their job searches. Sixty-nine organizations in 22 Minnesota cities and four other states are now sponsoring organizations, including libraries, adult basic education programs, community technology centers, schools, and job training centers.
The Northstar Digital Literacy Project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Otto Bremer Foundation and is hosted by the Minnesota Literacy Council.