Strengthening Broadband through Library Engagement

Libraries as Critical Infrastructure Intermediaries


  • Eleanor Mattern University of Pittsburgh
  • Konstantinos Pelechrinis University of Pittsburgh
  • Fanghui Xiao University of Pittsburgh



digital divide, digital inclusion, digital literacy, infrastructure, intermediary


In the Pittsburgh region, the Every1online project, led by the non-profit Meta Mesh, bridges communities with no-cost Internet service. Recognizing that digital literacy is a core component of digital inclusion, the authors worked with Meta Mesh to consider the digital literacy needs of community members and to be responsive to these needs through resources provided to individuals as their Internet connection is established. To build an understanding of these digital literacy needs, the research team surveyed librarians to discover the questions that patrons bring to the library. In this paper, we propose that libraries both provide essential social infrastructure and, as evidenced by this case study, serve as important intermediaries to critical infrastructure. We introduce the concept of a critical infrastructure intermediary, an organization or individual that helps people to find and use critical infrastructure and that helps to strengthen that infrastructure through a feedback loop.


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Juried Papers