Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thoughts on Class

As the class comes to a close, I just wanted to sum up what I have learned and how the class effected my views on the issues presented.  I'd also like to see what everyone in the class thinks too. 

As the class began I didn't really think Libraries were important and didn't have much of an understanding of how restricted access is to some people.  The two articles that changed my views the most were; Building the Bridge: "Learning From Seattle" and "The Policy Implications of Internet Connectivity in Public Libraries. " 

"The Policy Implications of Internet Connectivity in Public Libraries" shed light on the fact that even if most people can get to a library to use the Internet if they really need to, the wide range of inequalities those people face severely limit the usefulness of that utility.  It shed light on the fact that for many it is a struggle to get to the library and once they are there they face possible lines and time limits for Internet usage.  On top of that, public Internet access is subject to censorship, limiting the possiblities that many others enjoy.  These realities effectively make the internet a barrier to improving people's lives rather than opening possibilities and resources to them.

"Learning From Seattle" showed what I took away to be a very good way to deal with the situation.  The programs were started for and by the people of the area to improve eaveryone's lives.  They researched what people needed and wanted most and responded to those requests accordingly.  I thought that the way they involved the people, government, and business in funding the program was a very effective way to mke sure that they got money where it needed to go, instead of just dumoing it on the situation.  In making funds available, yet also requiring locals to match funding, they got people to take a personal interest in the programs.

At the end of "Learning From Seattle" the author discussed where we should go from here, in terms of funding and policy on the issue.  Should the Federal government continue to stay out of this process or should it be nationalized somehow?  I believe that the answer is somewhere in between.  It's important that the people living in a given area want and are willing to work at improving the situation.  If no one wants a new library or doesn't really understand all the possibilities that are there, building a library won't matter.  The matching funds idea that Seattle used would be usefull to others as well.  That said, I think it is important to streamline the process so other communities can learn from each and responding faster and better to their constituents.  

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