Its time to start another episode of the “Flavor of the month” forum as we mark the beginning of the month of September 2012. This month topic is set for “Modern Information Technologies in Libraries”and we will be discussing the impacts of Information Technology on libraries, the Modernisation of Library Systems, new resources we use in libraries, etc. and ultimately how can modern libraries can become an access points for development and social innovation.
Its obvious that libraries have had to adapt to the growth of information and communications technology in recent years. Today people use the internet as a primary source of information, often relying on books as a last resort due to the issues of time and money. In terms of infrastructure, libraries now devote space to public computer facilities and librarians undergo additional training in order to be well-equipped to deal with queries related to modern research techniques and online resources as well as the traditional questions related to finding and borrowing books. Library archives and records are also now computerised meaning a more efficient and effective borrowing and returns system and a faster method of locating resources and assessing availability of items. In terms of administration, running a library is now much simpler than before, thanks to the aid of computerised systems. Modern systems are also beneficial to customers who are able to reserve and renew items online as well as being able to explore the extensive library catalogue.
Further, the evolution of technology has undoubtedly increased the variety of resources available in libraries today; it is no longer a case of going to the library to borrow a particular book for your research but rather an opportunity to explore books, journals, DVDs and websites related to the desired subject matters.
Added to that, the internet has challenged the concept of going to a library as people are often able to access books and journals online; for those who do not have access to a computer at home, however, the library is an increasingly valuable resource. Furthermore, with library services now offering classes in basic computer skills and online research master classes, even those who do have internet access at home can benefit from the local library.
This month forum will be moderated by Joel Turner on behalf of Beyond Access Initiative. Beyond Access is an initiative that is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and managed by IREX. In fact, one of Global Libraries teams. Warm welcome to the forum Joel, and welcome all of you for a fruitful discussion on “Modern Information Technologies in Libraries”.
Pic Credit: Beyond Access Initiative.
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Seu, I clicked on the Beyond Access Initiative, and I am so excited about the Global Libraries team. I emailed Beyond Access to learn more details about volunteering for the Washington, D.C. Conference in October, 2012. Will you attend? Since I teach doctoral level research classes online, I truly understand and appreciate the value of the Beyond Access Initiatives. What an excellent organization! Thank you for sharing this topic. Barbara Fedock
U are most welcome :)
I couldn't agree with you more. Technology has indeed revolutionized not only our concept of libraries but also in terms of how they operate. And, from my own personal point of view, I think it has made the lives of both the librarians and the users so much easier.
Today, when we speak of libraries, there are basically 2 categories: the PHYSICAL library and the ONLINE library. The more advanced institutions maintain both, while some organizations keep an online one merely for compilation of digital resources. In the case of the Telecentre.org Foundation, we do have both but since we have a global audience, we focus more on maintaining and growing the online one. It is accessible at this URL: http://onlinelibrary.telecentre.org. We are continuing to improve and build the resources therein not only in English but in other languages as well. Actually, everyone is welcome to contribute resources that are relevant to telecentres and ICT for development through the Share a Resource feature.
Meanwhile, I am looking forward to learning more about Modern Technologies in Libraries via this forum.
Thanks, Marius! You made mention of some online library tools. I'm particularly interested in these as we are constantly looking for ways to improve our online services. Looking forward to your next post on this.
Anybody else out there who has a very good experience using an open source online library tool?
I am very excited to take part in this forum to discuss a topic that I think is very important and all-too-overlooked from a global perspective.
A big thank you to Seu for jump-starting the forum and thank you to those of you who have already sparked a very interesting discussion on ICT in libraries!
I have a couple of questions I'd like to pose to the group in an attempt to frame this discussion, but first, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the Beyond Access Initiative.
As Seu mentioned, Beyond Access is an initiative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, but unlike the traditional Global Libraries programs, Beyond Access attempts to harness the innovative work in which public libraries throughout the world are already engaging. We have seen that many libraries are already doing "development" in their communities, but these efforts fall under the radar of large international aid organizations or government agencies. We hope to change this by showcasing libraries that are addressing their community's most pressing needs, be it better access to agricultural information, online courses in health education, resources for starting a new business, or a platform from which citizens can better voice their concerns. In short, we believe that libraries are not simply beneficiaries of development efforts, libraries power development efforts.
On that note, I want to return to the discussion at hand. By no means do I want to take away from that which has already been discussed. Building off of the current thread, I want us to think about the advantages of physical access to resources versus access to online resources. Are these concepts mutually exclusive?
Can libraries facilitate a productive space to explore online content? Many have argued that libraries are no longer necessary as a source for information in an increasingly "wired" world. How can librarians reassert value to their communities in light of increased access to modern information technologies? Do you have any examples (as a librarian or a user of libraries) how how librarians add value to internet use? Other technologies?
Libraries truly power development efforts through the use of modern information technologies such as online library platforms. Online libraries, using open-source integrated library systems, changes the landscape of librarianship and libraries by serving as information hub of scientific knowledge in the field of agriculture, health education, microentrepreneurship and civic participation. Local librarians are now challenge to proactively foster sharing of knowledge and translate these technical findings into actual use by farmers, health workers, and villagers in their respective communities. However, through the years, we cannot outweigh the advantages of physical access to resources in fulfilling its mission to help us in our noble pursuit of knowledge. Although, access to online resources are now manifesting to be more beneficial because sharing of information crosses beyond geographical boundaries in a most cost-effective and fast way. Telecentre services, like access to Internet and online libraries, are now very important to bridge the gap between the most urbanized cities, mostly, blessed to have access to these physical resources, and the rural communities.
Seu, You asked on this month's topic: “Modern Information Technologies in Libraries....ultimately how can modern libraries become access points for development and social innovation."? For a period in time it appeared that the opportunity was passing them by...but yes, they embraced the digital agenda with grit and produced excellent online Libraries and where now they are presented with a real opportunity, properly harnessed, to become the Hub of their Community.
When I left School I wanted to be a Librarian but I choose Accountancy instead. I got to know Libraries very well as a User of their services, I used them as a study platform during my qualification years; studying by correspondence course at night in Libraries while working to earn a living by day. I did this five nights a week for 5 years back then. I loved the access to books that it gave me, and the access to people with a great knowledge of what appropriate books were available (just as valuable), while also providing wonderful atmospherics. I retained a fascination for books and libraries ever since.
Then Book Shops got much bigger and better so I went with what they had to offer mostly. Later still, Amazon arose and embraced the digital world too, made far more books universally available and virtually overnight, direct to your door too, and at better prices than the shops - so I used that facility. Then local Libraries went online, it was a big step for them and a really good service too. I joined my local one online too but did not use it as much as I though because of natural catalogue range limitations in comparison to what is available elsewhere. I had followed the life of Andrew Carnegie, loved what he had done and what his/ other Libraries still do today for Communities. Online Libraries could not match the Kindle for me, with its instant book downloads in a minute without mobile or landline costs and while I was on the move too; aboveall, I could even preview c.20 pages before buying. This was the future of books I thought.
Then Libraries embraced Telecentres and went in a different direction, became an E-Resource for their Community - where in Europe for example all of 150 million people have not yet crossed the digital divide and so are yet to become Citizens of that Digital World - and avoid the risk getting left behind, even among virtual ghost communities of tomorrow. Yet, this is the same Europe that projects a shortfall of 700,000 e-skilled jobs alone by 2015, part of a world that projects a shortfall of 30 million similar jobs this decade. Both Cuchie Ewassadja Adaha give great substance to demonstrate just what is possible in Libraries today.
So now I do believe again that Libraries can open the door to the digital world for their Communities, providing them with the technology resource they desperately need to harness the power within their Local Community for access to new kinds of Livelihoods instead of facing a life of low income, or facing redundancy or being less well educated or having to live among an ageing population while living longer with an ever growing need of affordable services - those that increasingly will only be available online or over mobile devices, but increasingly doable in this Internet of Things era.
In Ukraine, Russia and Moldova, many telecentres were created in the local public libraries. That is why there are many interesting stories from Eastern Europe about modern information technologies in public libraries.
Those are really interesting Library Telecentre stories Yuliya, each of which I have shared with my own group on Linkedin.
And to take up your important question, Joel, from earlier around your Beyond Access Initiative - I have given your direct rather potent question much thought. I am convinced, as I said some time ago here, that the missing link in this equation is the 'Village Hub', a Community Hub, into which I believe the Telecentre formula 'fits' seamlessly. And so the Library is for me potentially the perfect locational fit for it, with some social innovations added. There are many different obstacles ahead to that progress which differ from country to country, culture to culture, community to community, as well as across genders, age groups etc. It is at the Village Hub, however, that people will first feel that sense of Care from among other people in their Village, build a crucial trust that enables them to cross the threshold of that digital divide and towards the eBusiness that can then light up their Village. And Libraries already have the trust of their Community, so are the shortest bridge to cross. So I completely agree with you Joel when you say: "Libraries are not simply beneficiaries of development efforts, libraries power development efforts."
Yes it is an immense challenge today on a world scale, but it is entirely doable thanks to the platform made available through advances in technology but especially the people in the Telecentres, Libraries & I would notably add to the untapped power that often flies under the radar in the vast Third Sector Orgs spread across Society too....in the areas of Arts & Culture, Social Sector Orgs., Lifework & the Temperaments.
I wrote here in July in Seu's TeleCentres & E-Business forum that "In my belief, the future of The Village rests in the hands of the Telecentres - though neither may fully appreciate that yet. And the future of entire Communities rests in turn in the hands of the Villages - though neither may fully appreciate that yet. And the future of entire Countries rests in turn to in the hands of Communities - though neither may fully appreciate that yet. And may I also add that I believe the future of many Communities rests in the hands of Cooperatives and the third (social) sector in general, again - though neither may fully appreciate that yet.!" http://community.telecentre.org/forum/topics/flavor-of-the-month-of...
If that holds true, and I think it does - and as Telecentres are seen today as Social Enterprises in Third Sector - I think that TeleCentres are fast becoming the engine room of the Library (a leading TC locations worldwide now), while Libraries & Telecentres together are set to become the empowering, natural born, grassroots Leader of their Community - where they are ideally situated, trusted and positioned to spearhead the concept of the Local Village Hub. We recognise that virtually all new Enterprise in a Community tomorrow will begin with Learning, and that is the key to future Livelihoods. Learning drives Business Startups of every ilk, and Third Sector Orgs (TSOs) - in the form of Cooperatives, Social Enterprise & Self-Help Groups etc - offer immense opportunities today together with M-SMEs as the very lifeblood of those Livelihoods that in turn breathe life into their Communities that they serve and develop.
Community Cooperatives and their Brands are the end goal we have been working towards for many years now with VoxWorld.Coop, now in formation phase in the relatively new European Cooperative Society (SCE) form as an initiative for the UN's IYC 2012, and with which I would be very happy to discuss here further in parallel with your Beyond Access Initiative and its related Groups - all with a view to empowering Communities everywhere through engagement in their Villages with Telecentres at their local Libraries - about which I would be happy to further share our thinking.
In Thailand, we have many ThaiTelecentres which are situated in the Community Public library and the Non-Formal Education Centre in the remote area throughout the country. With limitations of resource and IT skilled people, there are basic facilities15-20 computers and local volunteer helping to facilitate the computer class in basic computer skills, office application skills and basic online selling tools. The systems of borrowing and returning book in the remote area are running in traditional way ,while ICT helps the to Telecentre's member to access to database and online resource more easily and efficiency. I think it is a great opportunity for the marginal group in Thailand to enhance their ICT knowledge through modern technology in the library,especially to learn how to use ICT for their community business. Please visit http://www.Thaitelecentremall.com , then you will see the ThaiTelecentre's micro business started to sell products online.
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