(Kansas City, Missouri) – Crosby Kemper III, who has positioned the Kansas City Public Library as a local and national leader in the promotion of digital literacy, is heading the board of the Washington, D.C.-based Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition.
The election of Kemper, the Library’s executive director since 2005, was announced by the organization Wednesday, January 18, 2017. He’ll serve as chairman of the SHLB board of directors through 2017.
Formed in 2009, SHLB works to develop and support policies to improve broadband connectivity for anchor institutions and their communities. Its 77 members range from libraries, schools and health institutions to corporations and nonprofit broadband providers, foundations and public interest groups.
Kemper succeeds Montana State Librarian Jennie Stapp as chair of the 14-person board.
“I’m honored that the SHLB board, whose members all are leaders in broadband adoption, service, and policy, would choose me for a leadership role in this important national organization,” Kemper says. “It is really a recognition of the work done by the Kansas City Public Library in partnership with other local, regional, and national institutions and organizations.”
He takes pride, he says, in SHLB’s role in expanding broadband access nationwide but notes that the nation’s digital divide is not yet closed.
“The FCC’s most recent report, for example, found more than two in five schools falling short of the commission’s high-speed connectivity goals,” Kemper says. “Connecting schools and other anchor institutions to high-quality broadband helps students develop the digital skills they need, both at school and at home, and go on to become productive citizens. It is a conduit to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, improved health care, and civic involvement.
“I look forward to not only maintaining but also expanding SHLB’s position as a leader in this effort and to joining our new presidential administration in finishing the job – assuring the equitable, across-the-board distribution of broadband.”
Under Kemper, the Kansas City Public Library has made digital literacy a priority.
- It played a prominent role in the founding of the now 70-member Kansas City Coalition for Digital Inclusion, and has hosted two digital inclusion summits drawing more than 400 participants.
- The Library is in the second year of a pilot program, in partnership with Kansas City Public Schools, that allows 70 students to “check out” mobile hotspots, giving them and their families access to the internet from home and other remote locations.
- It further expanded online access for students across the school system by allowing them to use their school IDs as library account numbers to check out books and access online databases and other e-resources – from school, home, and other locations.
- The Library was closely involved in Kansas City’s selection a year ago as one of 19 pilot cities in the nationwide Community Connectivity Initiative, a component of President Obama’s new ConnectALL program. Administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the program is designed to develop a comprehensive online assessment tool to help civic leaders identify and address critical broadband needs and ultimately connect more low-income residents to the internet.