Students at William Woods University recently raised $866 to help the Callaway County Public Library upgrade its wireless Internet access and help close the “Digital Divide.”
The communication senior seminar class spent spring semester exploring the “Digital Divide,” a social issue that refers to the gap between individuals who have access to information and technology and those who do not.
After learning about the problem, the class put together a bingo fundraiser to raise money for the library, which provides Internet access free of charge.
“Our wireless Internet network, which provides free Wi-Fi access to anyone throughout the day to anyone in the library, needed an increase in bandwidth to accommodate the increasing amount of traffic we are seeing,” Greg Reeves, library manager, said.
“The gift from the students’ efforts allowed us to increase the bandwidth and helped us to provide better access and service to the people of Callaway County who use the library’s network.”
The fundraiser at the Post Office Bar and Grill included 10 rounds of bingo, as well as a 50/50 raffle, and opportunities to win prizes and gifts throughout the event.
“The event was a fun way to get the community involved in our cause and share some education on the social issue of the ‘Digital Divide,’” Alyssa McManus, a class member, said.
In studying about the “Digital Divide,” the students noted how the Callaway County Public Library makes strides to bridge the technology gap in the community and decided the library should be the monetary beneficiary.
“Some Callaway County residents use the library as their main or only source of Internet access,” Alaina Leverenz, another senior seminar member, said. “The upgraded access will positively impact the lives of library patrons and community members.”
“The ‘Digital Divide’ issue is extremely fixable and preventable,” McManus said. “We can help our community have a better future with more awareness and maybe one day the ‘divide’ could be closed.”
She added, “The library not only offers computers and Internet access, but they also put on classes to educate community members on how to use such things. I am so happy we raised money for them.”
Melissa Alpers-Springer, assistant professor of communication and theatre, was pleased with the students’ project.
“I’m proud of the communication seniors for bringing the issue of the digital divide to William Woods University and the Fulton community,” she said. “The reality of how essential it is to be tech savvy to apply for jobs, college, health benefits and more, is not widely acknowledged, and I applaud the communication seniors for their efforts.”