Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln

 

Abstract

Librarians have long recognized that access to the digital commons has the remarkable potential to neutralize factors that divide the rich and the poor. While access to the digital commons is free, the financial costs of the equipment and the lack of training in the use of the equipment is an obstacle to many people using this unique resource. The disparity in the allocation of this training and equipment is often referred to as the Digital Divide. Librarians continue to work diligently to bridge this divide by providing access to computers and conducting classes in the use of computer technology. By doing so, librarians continue to open access to the digital commons among the poor and technologically challenged that would not have been possible otherwise. While access to the digital commons is burgeoning, it is not without significant problems. Greco and Floridi (2004) have recently pointed out that unchecked growth in Internet access will cause a significant reduction in the quality of the digital commons. As more users gain access to the digital commons there is more competition for bandwidth which contributes to frustratingly slow connection speeds, and finding the information one wants is rendered more difficult because of the proliferation of information added by members of the commons. This difficulty puts librarians in a problematic situation: We are forced to either let the market decide who has the equipment and training necessary to gain access to the digital commons, or we remain a constant factor in the qualitative destruction of this valuable resource.

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