A Rural Library’s Perspective on Digital Equity
Less densely populated communities depend on public libraries for reliable digital access.
In light of Digital Inclusion Week, it’s important to focus not just on the benefits of an increasingly digital world but also on the drawbacks and the people that those drawbacks leave behind. Though there’s a lot to be said for technological advances, it’s essential to consider all parts of the population and how these advancements will impact those parts differently. This is most noticeable in how libraries are adapting to the times in the areas that suffer the most from digital inequity.
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How Are Rural Communities Affected by the Digital Age?
Rural communities are, of course, often more negatively affected by the increasingly rapid digitization of our everyday lives and culture. Often, heavily urbanized areas are the first to see the benefits of this digital revolution, while rural regions are stuck in an awkward in-between stage where the resources they rely on have moved into a digital space, but their access to technology hasn’t increased to accommodate this.
Unequal Internet Access
Due to these communities’ unequal access to technology, they also have unequal access to the internet. Many rural areas don’t have the luxury of consistent internet access or the increasingly large number of vital services that are either difficult or outright impossible to access in person. Many people think of a lack of internet access as something like an afternoon without their favorite playlist or show, but for those who live for days on end without internet, it has a far greater impact.
Without access to all of the educational resources that can be found online, for example, there’s potential for the quality of education to decline in rural communities as more conventional resources become increasingly difficult to access. So, what, exactly, is the library’s role in all of this, and what are librarians doing to promote digital equity?
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How Libraries Are Closing the Gap
Libraries often serve to close the gap between rural and urban communities by ensuring equal access to technology for everyone, regardless of location or socioeconomic status. Aside from providing near-endless knowledge in the form of books, most libraries have internet-connected computers available for visitors and may even rent out laptops to those needing one. In addition, these libraries may hold technology literacy courses that allow people not well-acquainted with the internet to learn the ins and outs of navigating the digital world.
If you’re interested in learning more about societal change from the perspective of librarians from smaller communities, feel free to visit our site at EveryLibrary today!
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