Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Building E-Government into the Library and Information Science Curriculum: The Future of Government Information and Services

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Building E-Government into the Library and Information Science Curriculum: The Future of Government Information and Services

Article excerpt

The provision of e-government access, services, and training is an area of rapidly growing significance within the profession of public librarianship, yet education in library and information science (LIS) has so far paid scant attention to preparing future public librarians to fulfill the e-government expectations of individual patrons, communities, and government agencies. A significant portion of the United States population relies on the access provided by and trusts the assistance available in public libraries to use e-government Web sites. Many federal, state, and local government agencies now direct citizens to the nearest public library for access and help in filing taxes, welfare requests, immigration documents, and numerous other essential government functions. E-government is a very significant area of service for public libraries that will continue to grow in importance; as such, LIS programs must begin to put more emphasis on e-government in their educational programs and research projects. This article explores the intersections of public libraries and e-government, the educational opportunities and challenges raised for LIS education, an example program that has been developed in this area, and the implications for LIS research.

E-government and Public Libraries

With nearly every public library in the United States now connected to the Internet and offering free access, public libraries ensure that all citizens have access to online information and services.1 A key area in which the Internet access in libraries is playing an increasingly important role is through providing access to e-government - the provision of government information and services through the online environment, including everything from applying for Medicare prescription drug plans to paying taxes to emailing a public official. Governments at all levels are showing a strong preference for delivering services via the Internet, primarily as a means of boosting cost-efficiency and reducing time spent on direct interactions with citizens, however, citizens show a strong preference for in person or phone-based interactions when they have questions or are seeking government services.2 Further, many citizens have trouble using e-government services as a result of a general lack of familiarity with the structure of government, lack of technological literacy, or lack of access to computers and the Internet.3 As a result, many United States residents turn to public libraries for access to and assistance in using e-government.

There is significant interest in e-government, and often citizens have to use it to reach the information and services they seek. In the United States, 58% of Internet users believe e-government to be the best source for government information and 65% of Americans expect that information they are seeking will be on a government site, with 26 million Americans seeking political information online every day.4 In many cases, however, citizens may lack access or may lack sufficient access to use e-government. While 73% of Americans are Internet users, 27% of Americans live in a household that has no Internet connection and 58% of Americans with home access do not have broadband.3

As a result, a significant proportion of the United States population - including people who have no other means of access, people who need help using technology, and people who have lower quality access - relies on the access provided by and trusts the assistance available in public libraries to use e-government Web sites.6 Many people may not be comfortable using e-government on their own, but they are more comfortable using e-government when a librarian is there to provide assistance.7

Many federal, state, and local government agencies now direct residents to the nearest public library for access and help in filing taxes, welfare requests, immigration documents, and numerous other essential government forms.8 Further, the vital roles that public libraries played in the aftermath of the major hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 by providing access to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) forms and other e-government materials essential for emergency response and recovery may have permanently cemented public and government perceptions of public libraries as hubs for e-government access. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.