A new educational programming and technology center at opened at the Bushwick Library in mid-March through a partnership of Brooklyn Public Library and Charter Communications, Inc. The Spectrum Learning Lab will provide state-of-the-art technology, including desktop and laptop computers and high-speed internet service, to patrons free of charge. Many of the lab’s digital literacy programs and classes will be multilingual and designed to serve Bushwick residents who have limited English proficiency.
“The library’s doors are open to all people, and the Learning Lab will help patrons develop useful skills no matter what language they speak or how proficient they currently are with technology,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “The lab will be a valuable resource to the entire neighborhood, particularly job seekers, students and non-native English speakers.”
While broadband service is widely available in Brooklyn, broadband adoption, particularly among immigrant communities and lower-income households, is far from universal. According to the 2013 American Community Survey, approximately one-third of Bushwick’s households lack broadband service at home, and many rely on the library for computer and internet access.
Charter’s commitment to the Bushwick Learning Lab includes Spectrum Internet™ and TV services, computer equipment and software, flat-screen HDTVs and other furnishings. Spectrum Learning Labs have focused on workforce development and youth engagement, helping residents build computer, internet and other communications skills in communities across New York City. A total of 40 Learning Labs are expected to be in operation by 2020.
The Spectrum Learning Lab at Bushwick Library will host a rotating schedule of programs, approximately three per day, including twice-weekly programs for older adults, weekly job readiness workshops, and a varied schedule of after-school programs and class visits by local schools. Staff, volunteers and community partners will host technology classes, digital literacy workshops, STEM programs and open labs for independent work.
Beginning computer users will benefit from classes that teach basic skills, while Teen Tech Time attendees will learn coding, design and other more advanced proficiencies. Career information librarians will offer weekly programs and mentoring sessions for job seekers. Twenty laptop computers, provided by Charter, will be available for loan, twice as many as are available at the current branch.
When not reserved for BPL programs and workshops, the Lab will be available for use by local schools and community groups in need of technology resources. Community partners planning to offer programming in the space include TKTK Senior Center, the YMCA and P.S. 147.