Monday, March 26, 2012

Librarian In the News: On the Digital Divide

And so the Manila Bulletin interview I had last February finally made it to print. Some friends sent a message via text congratulating me on the feature article. Many contacts in Facebook linked and shared the article on their wall.

Thank you very much.

I tried my best to answer all the questions as best as I could but going through the article several times over made me realize I have not answered some topics or issues sufficiently. For example, the question on digitization of books and how, if I were not a librarian, would I use the library. I did answer the question, but there's an implied thought to the question being this: Let’s pretend for a minute that you were involved in the world’s biggest book digitization effort. How do you personally use the library? How do you search for and access information in general? How do you read books?

This is what I would like to add: Book digitization is the trend, but using the library is still essential in this age of digitization because, libraries close in the gap of the digital divide. The digital divide is not on technology alone, but also on how these tools are used to make life better; to arrive at well informed opinions from the use of technology; and to comprehend the technological environment that surround us, deriving meaning and constructs of knowledge from it. For a country that is forever developing, functional libraries are crucial to develop thinking skills and self empowerment.

Google, Wikipedia, social networking sites are all cool stuff. I love technology and yes, I blog. But these tools, fancy and fast, as they seem to be can only be accessed by those who can afford to have an Internet connection at home or the budget to be called technologically advanced. The library has structures and systems that allow for an INFORMATION COMMONS. The library's use of technology to virtually upload this information commons online would mean going the extra mile for library patrons who do not have access to technology at home but can freely do so in the library nearest them.

I hold the same belief on ebooks and in developing an ebook collection. The existing marketing strategy for ebooks is very aggressive. I fear that by being so hot and gung-ho on ebooks and the acquisition of ereaders, the industry leaves behind a great number of people who also have the RIGHT TO READ and deserve ACCESS TO INFORMATION.

Again, I am not against ebooks. I do not own an iPad or a Kindle, but technology has taught me to be resourceful and ingenuous. I have a Kindle app and an Adobe Shockwave in my MacBook. I keep a directory of free ebook providers. I read electronically given the means I could afford to have.

But I am a librarian.

And one of my many roles is to narrow the gap between the haves and the have nots through effective and efficient library services and programs. It is not an easy job, I tell you.

I choose to do it.

And I will die trying.

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