Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Libraries Essential to National Broadband Reality

ALA spokespersons commented recently to the FCC with regard to achieving the administration's goal of national broadband. In sum, libraries (of all sorts) can be key in realizing this goal. An excerpt follows:

“The national broadband plan has the potential to benefit millions of people by enabling high-capacity, ‘future-proof’ connections to the Internet in large multi-user locations such as libraries,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of ALA’s Washington Office. As the premier public computing centers around the country, libraries can serve as “community anchor institutions” by providing broadband, Sheketoff said.

What an idea. As we are all dealing with new realities and developments, it is heartening to know that there are possibilities for re-imagining relations and communities. Re-thinking the importance of libraries to communities is especially appealing to me. It is a great example of rethinking the places that impact our access to spaces of community and connection. While this is indeed a potential boon to libraries, the implicit mandate is that the libraries and librarians facilitating this change are radically different in some ways. So, in working toward such realities we need to ask how technology and social practice has changed the ways that individuals and groups access information and their needs (both known and unknown) for curation of said information.

Yes, this is a call for things like "Library 2.0" and beyond, but it's also a situation where progressive librarians need to be adept at understanding new literacies and lost literacies when it comes to critically assessing user needs and resources.

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