‘Electronic Village Halls’ and Libraries – 45

October 21, 2012 in Idea

Perhaps it is timely to revisit some of the notions of the ‘electronic village hall’ which were first mooted as social telematics infrastructure in the late 80s, for example in connection with Manchester City Council’s support of The Manchester Host and regional telematics (pre-Internet). The idea was for staffed locations where computing resources would be available for the use of citizens and community organisations.

Today, many urban public libraries actually have more customers using their computers and WiFi connections than are reading or borrowing books. Rural libraries, many of them under threat of closure, are often the only local point of Internet access for those who do not have access at home. It would seem sensible during this Nominet Trust enquiry to draw the Library Services (and national librarianship bodies such as CILIP) into the conversation.

Key pinch-points for library-provided ICT access are funding, maintenance, support and training for inexperienced users, and an often underwhelming offer of Microsoft-only software.

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