Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

President's Message: 21st Century Skills, 21st Century Infrastructure

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

President's Message: 21st Century Skills, 21st Century Infrastructure

Article excerpt

Twenty years ago, librarians became involved in the implementation of the Internet for the use of the public across the country. Those initiatives were soon followed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation projects supporting public libraries, which included funding hardware grants to implement public computer labs and connectivity grants to support high-speed Internet connections. In 2008, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) convened a task force to define twenty-first-century skills for museums and libraries, which became an ongoing national initiative (http://www.imls .gov/about/21stCSkills.shtm). The one year anniversary of the release of the National Broadband Plan was March 16, 2011. As described on, the plan is intended "to create a high-performance America--a more productive, creative, efficient America in which affordable broadband is available everywhere and everyone has the means and skills to use valuable broadband applications." (1)

In 1994, the Idaho State Library's Development Division cosponsored eight focus groups in which 179 people participated. The participants were asked several questions, including the types of information they would like to see on the Internet. The results reflected the public's interest at that time in the following:

* "expert advice on a variety of topics including medicine, law, car repair, computer technology, animal husbandry, and gardening

* economic development, investment, bank rates, consumer product safety, and insurance

* community-based information such as events, volunteers, local classified advertisements, special interest groups, housing information, public meetings, transportation schedules, and local employment opportunities

* computer training, foreign language programs, homework service, teacher recertification, school activities, school scheduling, and adult education

* electronic mail and the ability to transfer files locally as well as worldwide

* access to public records, voting records of legislators, absentee voting, the ability to renew a driver's license, the rules and regulations from governmental agencies, and taxes

* information about hunting and fishing, environmental quality, the local weather, road advisories, sports,

recreation, law enforcement and public safety, and social services available in the community

* access to electronic encyclopedias, local libraries' catalogs, full-text articles online, and document delivery." (2)

At the time we were asking the question, will an information infrastructure be built? …

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