An excellent opinion article by Susan P. Crawford, “The New Digital Divide” provides a valid reason why Public Libraries, Special and Academic Libraries provide a value in the digital age. For the majority of citizen’s, the only access they have to medical, law, jobs and skills is through a cell phone. The “poor and working class – either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet.” Indeed, the “library as place” can offer connection speeds as high as Docsis 2.0 and 3.0 or 105 megabits per second, fast enough to download a music album in three seconds. The library can offer high speed connections when wireless is too slow.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently came out with a study that shows how the divide is affecting economic growth. According to the study, almost 25% of Americans do not have unrestricted access to the Internet. However, roughly 44% of lower income families have some kind of Smart Phones.
The new digital divide can be combated with a new learning center or library environment. The provision of library internet access will enable the community to use real-time video conferencing and virtual classrooms. It can support job creation, higher quality healthcare, better skills and virtual diplomas. The “library as place” is a way to share our resources and build a better future.