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Title:Digital Divide 2.0 : African American Communities and Library Resources in Illinois
Author(s):Ginger, Jeff
Subject(s):digital divide
black communities
African American communities
digital content
Alexander county
Pulaski county
Peoria county
Champaign county
St. Clair county
Abstract:In the information era inequality is increasingly dictated by a myriad of issues related to both access and use of computer and internet technologies. Mere access to the web is an indisputably insufficient claim to equity; attention must also be paid to issues such as autonomy, skill, purposes, and perceptions related to technological access and participation in cyberspace. The final—and still yet emerging—barrier to equality is termed here as Digital Consciousness, a state of being which most digitally disadvantaged populations have little opportunity to develop. This is understandably so as the recipe for such an understanding includes socialization, digital literacy, and a realization of self and structure in the modern web. All of these factors are dependent upon both access and use. To develop a Digital Consciousness a person must have avenues and contexts available that provide these ingredients. The library is one potential space for this, but it is unclear to what extent contemporary libraries effectively facilitate this process. The inequalities that African American communities have endured historically have been harsh, and digital inequality is no exception. To truly remedy the digital inequality for the African American people and other disadvantaged populations we must call for extensive change; a social movement situated within the context of the information revolution. This movement must embody cyberdemocracy, collective intelligence, and information freedom, each of which is dependent upon Digital Consciousness. This report assesses the computing and internet resources present in numerous Illinois public libraries that serve African American populations. Library outlets are evaluated for their capacity to enable patrons to develop Digital Consciousness. The study finds that while libraries do a moderately good job providing basic resources for connectivity, creation, and the reception and production of knowledge, they do not live up to the potential that they could be. The paper concludes with discussion about how to best address challenges and start crafting sustainable and effective solutions.
Issue Date:2008-07
Publication Status:unpublished
Peer Reviewed:not peer reviewed
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-08-04

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