Meet Rachel Fuller of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

Rachel Fuller works as an Information Services Manager at the Columbus Metropolitan Main Library.

Interview with Rachel

Describe your role at the Columbus Metropolitan Library

I am an Information Services Manager on the Adult Services team at the Main Library. My team delivers library reference services on the phone and in-person at the library.  I manage our Digital Navigation services, and other projects related to Digital Equity and Inclusion, such as developing  “Digital Connectors” training for all of our staff and a few community partners.  I also manage our new Business & Nonprofit Resource Center, which just opened in June!

Tell us how the Library supports digital inclusion in the Columbus Region.

Our library leadership was very involved in the work to establish the Digital Equity Coalition, and we continue to actively support SMART Columbus’ work on various projects. In the past few years, the library has supported the community through device distribution events and ACP signups.  We hired three Digital Navigators to help our customers access affordable devices and internet connections and develop their technology skills. Currently we have a partnership with CMHA to provide Digital Navigation services to CMHA residents. We have recently trained all of our staff to be “Digital Connectors”. This means that all our public-facing employees have an understanding of our role in supporting digital inclusion and have the practical knowledge to connect our customers to the digital devices and skills that they need. Finally, we’re excited to partner with SMART and the City of Columbus on a new pilot project, called the Digital Skills Hub. This will be a short series of computer classes available to all community residents; when the series ends participants will receive a new Chromebook!

Could you share some success stories or examples of individuals or communities positively impacted by the Library’s digital inclusion efforts?

Our Digital Navigator, Luis, met with a CMHA community resident who wanted to learn how to attend online classes provided by Mt. Carmel Hospital. She was so happy with that appointment that she came back the next week and hasn’t stopped coming! Every week she learns something new. She learned how to use telemedicine apps, how to use a password manager, how to add a lock screen on her phone and use her phone’s camera, how to back up her photos, and now she is tackling spreadsheets. Every week she takes fliers about our Digital navigation services back to her community to share!

What gets you most excited about your work every day?

I love when we can provide the right resource to someone and it makes a tangible difference for them. Whether that is helping folks get an affordable internet connection, or finding the right book for their project, or connecting them to a community resource, I am always delighted when we help customers find what they need.

Did you always know you wanted to do this as a career? Share your career path with us.

I obtained a Masters in Social Work right after college and worked in the fields of mental health, employment and supportive housing for 18 years after college. I then had the opportunity to join Chase, where I had several roles focused on working with nonprofits, in particular credit counseling agencies. I then decided it was time for a career-refresh and got another degree in Library Science in 2021. It was a great decision because I still help people get the resources they need and my new career builds on all of the community work I did in prior roles.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

Like a lot of librarians, I’m a little bit interested in almost everything so I read a lot. I’m working on getting more exercise so I walk on the Olentangy trail most days. I also just joined the Worthington Chorus, because I love to sing.

In your view, what role does digital inclusion play in promoting overall social equity and economic empowerment for individuals and communities?

I think it’s well understood that being online is no longer optional. It’s really become a necessity to be online in order for anyone to fully participate in the community, access job opportunities, find educational resources and obtain the information needed to succeed in any venture.

In our work at the Business and Nonprofit Resource Center, we try to always be mindful that access to a connected device and an affordable internet connection is the necessary foundation for their success. If they aren’t online, individuals miss the essential opportunities they need to succeed in their business or to build their nonprofit.  Our small businesses and nonprofits are vital engines in addressing both social inequity and economic empowerment, and if they aren’t connected, it’s a setback for all of us.

Loved reading this interview? Stay tuned for our next feature!

At the Franklin County Digital Equity Coalition, we’re dedicated to championing digital inclusion and bridging the gap in our community. Through insightful conversations like this interview, we aim to raise awareness, share experiences, and inspire positive change. To stay updated on our initiatives, events, and resources, be sure to follow us on our social media platforms and visit our website. Together, let’s work towards a more equitable and connected digital future for all.