Monday, October 06, 2008

Public Libraries and the Digital Divide: Part 1

The ever changing discoveries in science and technology are changing the way that we all live around the world each day. No other aspect better exemplifies this than computer technology.

Over the past 50 years we have seen this technology lead us from a one of the first computing machines which weighed as much as five adult male elephants to the computers of today which now is smaller than one’s fingertip. Not only has the computer come a long way in its development, but its advancement has changed the way that people all over the world communicate with one another.

In the process of this stellar advancement, there have been a segment of the population which has lagged in the access of all of the technology available. Those left behind have traditionally been lower socio-economic levels.

This lag or disparity in access to computers and the Internet has been labeled the digital divide.[i] There have been several rules of thought as to if the continued advancement in computer technologies and The Internet will continue to widen the Digital Divide or make that chasm a bit narrower.

Whether or not you think that the Digital Divide is widening, non-profit organizations and other organizations serves an invaluable role in adding in bridging the gap between the Have’s and the Have Not’s. With these organizations providing much needed assistance to those who would not otherwise be able to gain access to computers and The Internet.

Public Libraries are a perfect example of this. For example, just in the past two decades, the number computers in the average public library has increased insurmountable compared to the increase in literary material and has caused some libraries’ attendance to rival the attendance some small amusement parks.[ii] In a series of blog posts, I will attempt to explain advancement in computer science and shed some light as to what public libraries’ roles are and can be in the narrowing of the Digital Divide.

[ii] "Information: The Perfect Economic Good" Kareem A. Simpson (2004)

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