These are my reflections on some areas of policy and my future as an information professional.
When I reflect upon of the role of public libraries in providing “free Internet access,” I have the view that this is a service the community needs and expects. All persons need the opportunity to access information that meets their informational, recreational and educational requirements (Bertot, Jaeger, McClure, Wright, & Jensen, 2009). Living in a rural community I can see the lack of Internet access, lack of skills to use Internet and lack of bandwidth are all issues contributing to the digital divide. As libraries provide more PCs to meet demand and wireless Internet access on the same network it can all slow down to a less than useful pace (Bertot, et al., 2009). I see the challenges facing libraries, given the limited resources available. I also see the need to advocate for libraries, reminding funding bodies of the important role they play in enabling participation in the information society by their communities. Supporting policies that will help to overcome the digital divide is necessary. For me personally I see a responsibility to keep learning about new technologies on the Internet so I can assist others to gain new skills. I am also reminded not to make assumption about services that can be provided until I have ascertained what will be possible, both technically and in view of resources available. Just because the Internet can serve as a platform for enhanced service and I have may have seen it modelled elsewhere doesn’t mean it will be possible, there is still a divide.
I also see the need to stay informed and pay attention to policies that regulate the Internet whether in libraries, organisations or at home. Things like ISP filtering, propriety software can have dramatic implications, for example on collaboration using cloud computing (Nelson, 2009). While issues such as security need to be addressed; solutions found need to support interoperability and open cloud development (Nelson, 2009).
Bertot, J. C., Jaeger, P. T., McClure, C. R., Wright, C. B., & Jensen, E. (2009). Public libraries and the Internet 2008-2009: Issues, implications, and challenges. First Monday, 14(11). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2700/2351
Nelson, M. R. (2009). Building an open cloud. Science, 324(5935), 1656-1657