THE EXPERT’S OPINION: Equitable Access to the Global Networked Environment Through U.S. Public Libraries: Too Little Too Late?

THE EXPERT’S OPINION: Equitable Access to the Global Networked Environment Through U.S. Public Libraries: Too Little Too Late?

Charles R. Mcclure (Florida State University, USA)
Copyright: © 1999 |Pages: 3
DOI: 10.4018/jgim.1999100105
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Abstract

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104) provided sweeping reforms to the US telecommunications industry, to developing concepts and applications of Universal Service, and to supporting libraries and schools to connect to the global networked information environment. Indeed, the Clinton Administration has a long record of supporting improved and equitable access, to the Internet and supporting public libraries in that role. But the Universal Service aspects of the law, and especially the awarding of monies to schools and libraries through the E-rate, to support Universal Service continue to be controversial (Gilroy, 1999). For a combination of reasons, it may be that the expectations of how public libraries will serve to promote equitable access to the Internet and a range of networked services and resources are simply unreasonable, are unfunded, and unlikely to be realized. A question to consider is the degree to which public libraries can: take on additional responsibilities for providing community access to the Internet; assist residents in how to best use the Internet so they can find the services and resources needed; and deploy a range of networking infrastructure, hardware, and software are needed for high quality public access to the Internet.

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