Bridging the Digital Divide

Written by Jennifer Harvey, Curriculum Librarian

Recent survey information published by the U. S. Census Bureau suggests that approximately 75% of U. S. citizens have access to the Internet through their home (see Table 2 on the survey results page). Oddly, a smaller percentage (approximately 69%) report accessing the Internet from some location (“some location” is defined as “access that occurs either inside or outside the householder’s home”). With the increased use of smart phones and wi-fi technologies to access the Internet, presumably this number will increase. What happens to the citizens who don’t have access to digital resources? They clearly fall on the have-not side of the Digital Divide.

The library works to bridge the Digital Divide. Calvin T. Ryan Library has nearly 100 computers available for patrons to use (including laptops available for check out from the Circulation Desk). Not only can the computers be used to connect with the Internet and the resources available freely there, but they are well used to access the scholarly resources the library collects to aid faculty and student research. Many of these resources are also available to University affiliated persons from anywhere in the world, any time of the day. A small (growing!) percentage of these services also facilitate mobile access.

Is the Digital Divide just about hardware and technology? Certainly not! Information literacy (being able to identify and access appropriate information resources, evaluate the quality of the information and interpret the meaning of the information, then apply it well to the information need) is another component of the Divide. The library’s services include human resources to help in navigating the wide array of information resources available through our collections. These resources can be accessed through our reference service (drop in at the reference desk, use our 24/7 chat reference service, send an email to the subject specialist at the library, or make a reservation for research assistance with the specialist) or through class instruction sessions (contact the appropriate liaison librarian to schedule a class).

Help your University library to bridge the Digital Divide by spreading the word about the services available in the library!

Please note, census information is conveniently accessed through the library’s Government Documents pages (from the library home page, roll over Research Tools – Articles and Books and click on Government Documents in the drop down list; on the Government Documents home page, click on United States Government Documents, then on Just Released News).