Libraries, Telecenters and Cybercafés: A Comparison of Different Types of Public Access Venues

Libraries, Telecenters and Cybercafés: A Comparison of Different Types of Public Access Venues

Melody Clark (Technology and Social Change (TASCHA), USA) and Ricardo Gomez (University of Washington, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-771-5.ch001
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In order to understand the implications of this study, it is important to understand the context in which it was conducted. Consequently, this book begins with a chapter that explores the differences and similarities, strengths and weaknesses, of each of the three different types of public access venues studied: public libraries, telecenters, and cybercafés. To begin, the following descriptions define each type of venue in the study:
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Distribution And Location Of Types Of Venues

To accurately describe the various strengths and weaknesses of the different types of public access venues, a broad understanding of the entire picture of the public-access-venue landscape is important. It is significant to note which types of venues are available, as well as in what areas of the country they are available. Figure 1 describes the total distribution of public access venues included in this study, with proportions by type of venue and by geographic location (urban/non-urban):

Figure 1.

Distribution of Public Access ICT Venues (based on aggregated data from 25 countries in the Landscape Study)

This figure shows that cybercafés are by far the most common type of public access venue, representing almost three quarters of the total number of venues included in this study. Libraries and telecenters account for only 11% and 12% (respectively) of the total count of public access venues, with other venues accounting for only 4% of the total. There are exceptions, of course; four countries (Georgia, Honduras, Malaysia, and South Africa) did not report any numbers for cybercafés, and seven more countries reported numbers for cybercafés that are lower than other types of venues (Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Namibia, and Sri Lanka). Based on the descriptions offered in the country reports, these low numbers can be attributed to strong public access initiatives leading to other types of public access venues (religious libraries, school libraries, health centers), as in the case of Sri Lanka and Namibia. Furthermore, the Dominican Republic in particular mentions a lack of official data for their venue counts, the lack of which may lead to an underestimation of the number of cybercafés. In any case, the field of cybercafés is probably the most understudied, and the numbers of cybercafés are the most difficult to measure and the most likely to grow. It is our hope that research about cybercafés flourishes, as our study indicates that cybercafés are the most commonly available public access venue, especially in urban locations.

Since it seems that most public access venues are cybercafés, we wondered where they are located in a country. This study indicates a clear concentration of public access venues located in urban areas. While telecenters have a high proportion of non-urban locations, public libraries and cybercafés are primarily urban, with 64% and 91%, respectively, in urban locations. Furthermore, on average, only 31% of the public libraries offer ICT as part of their services, and these libraries tend to be in urban centers. Given that cybercafés account for 73% of all public access venues studied (the majority in urban areas), and given that over half the public libraries are urban, it is clear that public access to ICT is mostly an urban phenomenon. With a concentration in urban areas and populations, public access to ICT, for the most part, fails to serve the majority of the rural populations in the countries studied. The urban/non-urban divide is by far the most significant divide in public access to ICT (Proenza, 2006).

In sum, cybercafés constitute the largest source of public access to ICT, and the majority of public access venues are located in urban areas. This finding has two main implications:

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Ricardo Gomez
Chapter 1
Melody Clark, Ricardo Gomez
In order to understand the implications of this study, it is important to understand the context in which it was conducted. Consequently, this book... Sample PDF
Libraries, Telecenters and Cybercafés: A Comparison of Different Types of Public Access Venues
Chapter 2
Ricardo Gomez, Kemly Camacho
Who are the customers of public access venues, where do they come from, and what are their needs? In order to better understand the situation –... Sample PDF
Who Uses Public Access Venues?
Chapter 3
Elizabeth Gould, Ricardo Gomez
Building capacity for collecting content and enabling access to information by community members means training staff as well building their digital... Sample PDF
Infomediaries and Community Engagement are Key
Chapter 4
Ricardo Gomez, Elizabeth Gould
In this study, the authors found that trust is a key factor that drives people to actually make use of ICT in public access venues. Several factors... Sample PDF
Perceptions of Trust: Safety, Credibility, and “Cool”
Chapter 5
Melody Clark, Ricardo Gomez
To help frame their findings and discussion, the authors begin with a review of the existing published literature on user fees and other barriers to... Sample PDF
“Free” Service or “Good” Service: What Attracts Users To Public Access Computing Venues?
Chapter 6
Allison Terry, Ricardo Gomez
Studies show that due to systemic gender biases in the use of and access to ICTs and their applications, as well as socio-cultural norms that... Sample PDF
Gender and Public Access ICT
Chapter 7
Elizabeth Gould, Ricardo Gomez
Libraries play a central role as venues that offer public access to information. Increasingly, libraries in developing countries are offering access... Sample PDF
Challenges for Libraries in the Information Age
Chapter 8
Elizabeth Gould, Ricardo Gomez, Kemly Camacho
User information needs vary by geographic location as well as by economic and social standing, among other factors. These factors drive the format... Sample PDF
How do Public Access Venues Meet Information Needs in Underserved Communities?
Chapter 9
Ricardo Gomez
Throughout this book, we have detailed the profile of a public access venue user, discussed the role of venue staff in public access venues... Sample PDF
Success Factors for Public Access Computing: Beyond Anecdotes of Success
Chapter 10
Ricardo Gomez, Kemly Camacho, Elizabeth Gould
This chapter describes how the global Landscape Study was designed and carried out. The Landscape Study informs all the findings and results... Sample PDF
Behind the Scenes: Research Methodology and Analytical Framework
Chapter 11
Adrián Rozengardt, Susana Finquelievich
Public Access ICT in Argentina
Chapter 12
Marta Voelcker, Gabriel Novais
Public Access ICT in Brazil
Chapter 13
Adriana Sánchez, Kemly Camacho
Public Access ICT in Costa Rica
Chapter 14
Luis Fernando Barón, Mónica Valdés
Public Access ICT in Colombia
Chapter 15
Francia Alfaro, José Pablo Molina, Kemly Camacho
Public Access ICT in Dominican Republic
Chapter 16
Katia Sotomayor, Juan Fernando Bossio
Public Access ICT in Ecuador
Chapter 17
Melissa Arias, Kemly Camacho
Public Access ICT in Honduras
Chapter 18
Public Access ICT in Peru  (pages 228-248)
Juan Fernando Bossio, Katia Sotomayor, Erick Iriarte
Public Access ICT in Peru
Chapter 19
Ananya Raihan
Public Access ICT in Bangladesh
Chapter 20
Rohit Kumar Nepali, Bibhusan Bista
Public Access ICT in Nepal
Chapter 21
Maria Juanita R. Macapagal, Mina Lyn C. Peralta
Public Access ICT in Philippines
Chapter 22
Ibrahim Kushchu
Public Access ICT in Malaysia
Chapter 23
Ibrahim Kushchu
Public Access ICT in Indonesia
Chapter 24
Andrew P. Beklemishev
Public Access ICT in Kazakhstan
Chapter 25
Tracey Naughton, Lkhagvasuren Ariunaa
Public Access ICT in Kyrgyzstan
Chapter 26
Tracey Naughton, Ondine Ullman
Public Access ICT in Mongolia
Chapter 27
OPINIA Independent Sociological and Information Service
Public Access ICT in Moldova
Chapter 28
Public Access ICT in Georgia
Chapter 29
Leelangi Wanasundera
Public Access ICT in Sri Lanka
Chapter 30
Tina James, Alan Finlay, Michael Jensen, Mark Neville, Rasagee Pillay
Public Access ICT in South Africa
Chapter 31
Tina James, Milton Louw
Public Access ICT in Namibia
Chapter 32
Ndaula Sulah
Public Access ICT in Uganda
Chapter 33
Yahia Bakelli
Public Access ICT in Algeria
Chapter 34
Nayer Wanas
Public Access ICT in Egypt
Chapter 35
Ibrahim Kushchu
Public Access ICT in Turkey
About the Contributors