Thursday, November 12, 2015

Libraries are changing international development By Jacob Brogan


Mmankgodi Community Library in Botswana, where the Gates Foundation has helped create library services designed to encourage small business development.


This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. On Thursday, Nov. 12, Future Tense will host an event in Washington, D.C., on the future of the library. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website.
Discussions of the future of libraries are often surprisingly nostalgic endeavors, producing laments for vanished card catalogs or shrinking book stacks rather than visions of what might be. Even at their most hopeful, such conversations sometimes lose track of the pragmatic functions that libraries serve. Imagined as unchanging archives, libraries become mere monuments to our analog past. But envisioning them as purely digital spaces also misses the mark, capturing neither what they can be nor the way their patrons use them.
According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, low-income and minority Americans are far more likely than others to assert that they would be negatively affected if their local library closed. The survey suggests that this has much, or more, to do with access to computers and the Internet—which is critical for job searchers and entrepreneurs—as it does with the opportunity to check out books. Public libraries aren’t just educational destinations; they also provide access to economic opportunities available through few other venues.  Read more...

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