Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Information Poverty on the Home Front:

BetaNews | U.S. Libraries Wired, But Falling Behind

As the world's last remaining superpower, one would think the United States would care that its public libraries are falling behind in the Digital Divide. Sigh. Unfortunately, this hasn't hit any of the major news outlets yet.

The findings of the Gates Foundation/ALA study on internet access and computing reflects the increasing disparity between the Information Haves and Have-Nots in American society.

Only 16% of rural libraries reported having any kind of training for users. Roughly a 75% of public libraries report having no schedule for system upgrades.

The ALA, of course, blames all of this on the lack of funding.

Welcome to the Digital Divide, ladies and gentlemen. Budgets for libraries, public or otherwise, will not increase because librarians bemoan their financial woes in library literature. Funding won't increase because of folks whining about the shrinking demands for traditional library services.

Without a better national marketing campaign than the outdated READ campaign (about as in touch with current user needs as disco) and several of the other initiatives, libraries are in trouble. Without better cooperative partnerships between academic, public, and school libraries, we're in trouble.

Sacrificing a goat to Melvil Dewey won't help either.

Full article text:
BetaNews | U.S. Libraries Wired, But Falling Behind


Anonymous said...

"Sacrificing a goat to Melvil Dewey won't help either."

Oh, I'm laughing so hard I can't breath!

You're right, dear. We need much better marketing and PR and a more unified approach.

Anonymous said...

Do I ever I hear you on this one, J.

My job is to provide training to library branch staff (among others - they are my no. 1 client in the county system - 90% of my workload).

They started too late. Person who had the job before me told me as much - she was the first in the system to do so and catching up with tech is about as easy as finding a librarian who doesn't read. In other words, ain't gonna happen.

All we are, as trainers, are stop-gaps, and we will remain that way until some sort of solution beyond a Band-Aid is found for the tech gap. We're in 2005 and we provide, for the most part, enough to equip user needs from 2000. That won't cut it. That doesn't cut it. Hard to get people behind us to offer support when all we offer them is shit, isn't it? What a headache.