Role of Librarian and Factors of Digital divide


Role of Librarian and information Centre

Libraries and information Centre’s evidently have a crucial role to play, especially as places of community access to ICTs in establishing inclusive knowledge societies (KS). A number of forces are currently driving the development of information society. These include globalization, economic liberalization, extensive use of ICTS, digital knowledge resources, etc. Obviously these have resulted in many parts of the world in uneven growth. Knowledge society requires that we ensure equitable access to knowledge resources and supporting technologies. A primary evaluation criterion for a KS should be the extent of participation and contribution of all its citizens, irrespective of their economic status, race, religion, educational level, and other differentiating parameters, to the socio-economic development process and being a part of the network society and benefit from it. It is difficult to imagine any institution other than the library – especially the public library – which can effectively serve as portal of entry to the digital information world for every individual. The advent of Web 2.0 brings in a new digital life style affecting every aspect of functioning of individuals and organizations. The units in this course are aimed at addressing some of the major issues that need to be examined. The issues are broad-based as they should be in any academic programme, but where necessary, illustrations are particularly relevant to developing countries such as India.

Factors of Digital Divide

A UNESCO document identified the following factors as contributing to the digital divide.

  • Economic resources: The cost for individuals, in the developing and poorer countries, of acquiring access to network

  • Geography: asymmetries between the town and countryside. In India, for example, 80 per cent of internet connections have occurred in the country’s twelve argest cities.

  • Age: young people are often at the forefront of the uptake of technological innovation; but they are also the most vulnerable and most affected by difficult social and economic conditions.

  • Gender: gender inequalities with regard to the new technologies are another aspect of the digital divide. Almost two-thirds of illiterates in the world are women

  • Language: It is a major obstacle to the participation of all. The emergence of Englis has the lingua franca of globalization leaves little room for other languages within cyberspace.

  • Education: social and cultural background

  • Employment: In many countries, internet access is limited to the world of work. The exclusion resulting from loss of employment also means de facto exclusion from cyberspace. Some of the significant recommendations and suggestions to overcome these barriers include:

    • Invest more in quality education for all to ensure equal opportunity

    • Increase places of community access to information and communication technologies

    • Widen the contents available for universal access to knowledge

    • Making linguistic diversity a priority: the challenges of multilingualism; support the creation of multilingual digital content

    • Increase women’s contribution to knowledge societies