Campbell: Providing digital resources, community at the modern public library
Today’s digital environment has changed the role of the public library and pushed its traditional mission beyond just building collections to creating community on a larger scale.
When a recent community survey in Ohio asked library patrons to give five words describing the library of their youth and then five words to describe a public library 20 years from now, the change in language was startling. While the library was nostalgically described with words such as “books,” “research,” “reading” and “quiet,” the language of the future was “technology,” “community,” “access” and “information.”
Recent studies show that more Americans than ever are turning to their public libraries for a diverse range of technology resources and training essential to full participation in the nation’s economy. Nowhere is this more evident than at the West Chicago Public Library District, which provides a vital community link to the Internet, technology and information. By providing free access to computers and Internet services to those who could not otherwise access these resources, the Library is helping to bridge the digital divide – the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” in the digital age.
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