Bridging the Digital Divide
Being able to successfully bridge the digital divide is one of the most pressing and important challenges that the librarians of the twenty-first century face. One of the most interesting studies that I have examined about this diverse topic comes from Colorado scholar Tammi Moe and is titled, Bridging the Digital Divide in Colorado Libraries. Moe defines the digital divide by stating,
“The "Digital Divide" is the mainstream buzzword for technology inequality. Since
the late 1990s, research has determined that the Digital Divide is an international phenomenon
with far-reaching effects and broad definitions. (Moe, 2004).”
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that financial and geographical barriers exist in our country which often limits individual’s experiences using technology. It’s shocking to think that many areas of our own country do not offer high speed internet access in the year 2012. One of the goals of modern librarianship is to provide access and education about new technologies to patrons.
In a single hour at any public library one can encounter individuals of all technology skill levels. From the displaced auto worker using a computer for the first time to fill out unemployment applications to the tech savvy college student, the modern librarian must be able to assist patrons of all skill levels. Libraries can play a huge part in educating individuals about technology usage and purchasing decisions.
When reopening after the holiday break, I encountered a large number of individuals who received tech items as holiday gifts but were unfamiliar with how to set them up and use them. From Kindles to iPod’s the variety of items was staggering. Yet, all of these individuals viewed the library as a place to educate themselves about new technologies. This was very complementary and is important! When libraries become behind in their knowledge and abilities to help patrons with new technology, we become one step closer to being viewed as irrelevant by patrons and that is dangerous.
Bridging the digital divide is something that librarians strive for in their efforts every day. Hopefully in the future, more individuals will come to view librarians as tech experts as well as information providers!
Moe, T. (2004). Bridging the “Digital Divide” in Colorado Libraries: Survey Results from the Colorado Public Libraries and the “Digital Divide” 2002 Study. Public Libraries, 43(4), 227-232.