Monday, September 15, 2014

Public libraries and e-government: US experience for Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan faced with a challenge what is the role of libraries nowadays and what changes should we made to response actual information needs of local communities. It is important to learn more about the US experience of public information services and the role of public libraries for providing access to the information for local communities.  Public libraries in the US are key actors for increasing of computer literacy of the people and providing access to Internet since 1994. In 2004, 99,6 percent US public libraries has Internet connectivity (Bertot, Jaeger, Langa, and McClu, 2006). By providing access to internet, training and consultations librarians become an experts in this IT field in their communities. In Kyrgyztan the situation is different, librarians have no knowledge and skills to use new technologies, even there are no computers and access to Internet.

In our class reading materials for Digital Government, authors are discussing the role of US public libraries as effective providers of e-government. Community members trust to public libraries, so they provide them public Internet access and fit their all information needs. In other hand, governmental agencies also trust to public libraries, so they direct visitors to go to public libraries where they can find online materials and librarians can help in searching and finding the proper information on governmental websites. Hereby, public libraries become a default social access point for e-government by providing access and assistance citizens. 

There are 2 main reasons how public libraries become a social source and center for e-government. First, public libraries in the US started provide free access to Internet since 1990th. Second, the role of librarians is very important because they can help to find visitors governmental information and serve as a bridge between communities and government structures. Therefore, public libraries could cover wider information needs, not limited just by providing an access to technologies and Internet.  Nowadays, governments are reducing interaction with citizens and switching to online services. However, there are some challenges that people feel difficulties in using or searching information online, or some of them have no access to Internet. In this case public libraries can provide an equal access to e-government sources for all vulnerable groups. Librarians become experts on e-government.

Activities of public libraries funded by federal and state budgets, and private funds and aimed provide public information services. Using e-government website visitors can get such important services as voter registration, motor vehicle services, tax payments, school enrollment for children in their community libraries. US public libraries plays important role in the life of their communities and it is a place to learn, use and access to information, including governmental and educational.  It is important to build a financial and organizational capacity of public libraries as key actors for increasing of computer literacy of citizens and implementation of e-government initiatives.  

1 comment:

  1. This is another example how libraries may help on bringing development and knowledge to communities: