Public Libraries and Equal Access to Information in the Digital Age

Last Tuesday, communications and library leaders from across Minnesota congregated in Alexandria to hear the most recent round of research findings from the Governor’s Broadband Task Force. This Task Force consists of a 15-person panel aiming to make “’border-to-border’ high speed Internet and cell phone access available throughout the state.” It’s an ambitious goal, but one the commission has been making steady progress toward since its inception in November 2011.

The choice of venue for the September 2013 meeting – the Douglas County Library – is an extremely appropriate one. Public libraries, long-time champions of securing equal access for all to vital information resources, are unsurprisingly at the forefront of the movement to see access to public computers (and particularly internet capabilities) extended to all Minnesotans.

comp.jpgIndeed, public libraries, their range of service offerings, and the institution’s continued societal relevance topped the list of issues discussed last week…

Did you know that, on average, Minnesota libraries provide 13.7 computers for patron use? Or that use of this resource has increased over 71% just in the last two years? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

If this is a subject you’ve been meaning to get informed on but have always found hard to approach, now is your chance. PowerPoints and other notes are available online. Click here to view them.

Meeting Abstract

Topics: Libraries in the digital age, libraries and Internet access, return on investment (ROI) for library public funding.

Speakers: Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson, interim State Librarian Jennifer Larson, Peg Werner of the Viking Library System, Melinda Ludwiczek of the Metropolitan Area Library Services Agency, and Gail Hedstrom, Library Director for Thorson Memorial Library in Elbow Lake, Minn.