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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Libraries Are Changing the Face of International Development

The Library’s Global Future

Even as books disappear, libraries are changing the face of international development

Jacob Brogan | November 10, 2015

According to a 2014 report by the International Telecommunication Union, more than 4 billion people still lack basic Internet access. As John Palfrey notes in his book BiblioTech, “The library’s role in the learning process is being displaced by commercial outfits (think of Amazon and its recommendations) and highly distributed nonprofits (think of Wikipedia).” But the ITU’s data suggest that those resources—even the open source ones—are available to a small percentage of the world’s population.
Zero-rating services, such as, offer one solution, bringing some of those people online by offering a limited version of the Internet. Critics of such proposals argue that they create a tiered Internet by funneling users toward a small handful of large sites. Though these services may help to close the digital divide, according to this line of thought they also threaten to impose new forms of inequality, leaving the rich with the whole Web while the poor get Wikipedia and Facebook. Arguing in favor of these controversial programs, Darrell M. West of the Brookings Institution writes that “in conjunction with free Wi-Fi networks or library-based devices [these programs represent] a way to bring digital access to those who otherwise could not pay for desired services.” Here, the key word may well be devices. Internet access—whether or not it’s limited—isn’t especially meaningful if those who would benefit from it it don’t have a way to get online. As bastions of the material in an increasingly digital world, libraries can and do furnish those tools.


<more at; related links: (Explore) and (BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google. Published May 5, 2015>

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