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Public Libraries, CNs,

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Title: Public Libraries, CNs,


1
Public Libraries, CNs, Collaboration
  • Joan C. Durrance, Professor
  • University of Michigan
  • School of Information
  • Canadian Library Association
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • June 1998

2
UM SI CNI Who We Are What We Do
The Community Connector http//www.si.umich.edu/
Community/
Connections http//www.si.umich.edu/Community/co
nnections/
3
Today's Focus
  • Look at dangers facing CNs today
  • Explore ways to address trends
  • Examine the unique contributions of librarians to
    effective community information systems
  • Discuss collaboration examples and opportunities

4
What's a CN?
  • Hard Question
  • Typical names
  • FreeNet
  • Civic Network
  • Community Network
  • Public Access Network
  • As heterogeneous as names suggest
  • Increasingly distributed

5
What Community Networks Do
  • Aim empower the community and bring the power of
    the Internet to bear on communities
  • Display local content
  • Through use of volunteers may
  • Try to provide public access sites
  • Provide training
  • Internet use, computer skills
  • Provide email
  • Design develop web pages
  • Foster discussion groups

6
Trouble in River City What Problems are CNs
Facing?
  • Balkanization
  • Competition and turf battles
  • Private Sector-Public Sector
  • Public Sector-Public Sector
  • Failure to share information, link, collaborate
  • Commercial entries (Digital Cities, City Search,
    MS Sidewalk)
  • e.g., Seattle.Sidewalk.com

7
Trouble in River CityWhat Problems Are CNs
Facing?
  • Free email-Hotmail, etc--of concern to CNs that
    provide email
  • Fizzle failure to grow
  • Confusion re CN Roles
  • The rapidly changing CN landscape (looking more
    like networked community than community network)
  • ustainability

8
What Do PLs Bring to CNs?
  • Stability
  • Skill sets of staff
  • Those things associated with staff
  • Physical presence
  • Those things associated with buildings
  • Experience working with the Community
  • Public trust

9
Public Trust Support for Public Libraries
How valuable are Public Libraries?
Percentage of U.S. library operating fund
referenda that passed, 1987-1996
Non-essential or dont know 2
Failed 25
Important 21
Essential 77
Passed 75
- Public Libraries in Nova Scotia Survey, April
1997
- Library Journal, June 15, 1997
10
Public Confidence And Trust in PLs
  • The public LOVES Public Libraries
  • Trust is based on PERCEPTIONS
  • Experience Messages PERCEPTIONS
  • What does the public associate libraries with?
  • world's knowledge at my disposal
  • the library as place
  • a place for my kids

11
Perceptual Problem Areasfor Public Librarians
  • 18-24 year olds least enthusiastic
  • Men less likely to support PL than women
  • Public focused on building and resources--not
    staff
  • Information role not well understood
  • Community role not well understood

12
Libraries and Community Information
Aiding immigrants, at the turn of the 20th
Century From The Library in America, Paul
Dickson, 1986
13
A Few PL Community Related Activities
  • Literacy
  • Work with immigrants
  • Information and referral and other
  • community information services
  • Job and career centers
  • CN Collaborations

14
Changes in PL Internet Access in Past 4 Years
Percentage of Public Libraries Offering Access to
the Internet
Public Access 17
Public Access 60.4
No Public Access 83
No Public Access 39.6
1994
1997
-- 1997 National Survey of U.S. Public Libraries
and the Internet
15
Evidence of Changing Perceptions PLs Heavily
Used to Reach Internet
Of the people aged 16 in the US and Canada who
used the Internet in the past six months, 15.6
accessed it from somewhere other than home, work
or school.
  • Top Places
    of People
  • Public Libraries 44.7 5.6
    million
  • Retail Outlet 9.8 1.2
    million
  • Hotel/Motel 7.5 0.9
    million
  • Museum/Rec. Facility 3.2 0.4 million
  • Church 1.2 0.2
    million
  • Government Facility 0.6 0.1
    million
  • Other 3.4 0.4 million

-- New York Times, May 31, 1998
16
Similarities Between CNs and PLs
  • Not mandated
  • People use voluntarily
  • Access a high value
  • Aim improve quality of life in community
  • Grass roots beginnings
  • Require strong community support
  • People often confused about what they do
  • Talk too much to their own kind
  • Both need to market more effectively

17
Differences BetweenLibraries and CNs
  • VARIABLE PUBLIC LIBRARIES CNs
  • - Age 100 years 10 years
  • - Initiators Women Men
  • - Clientele Female predom. Male predom.
  • - Staffing Professionals/Paras Minimal
  • - Volunteers Minimal Use Heavily used
  • - Technology Vendor driven Server Software
  • (often shared)
  • - Location Physical Presence Digital (anytime,
  • Library as Place anyplace, no place)
  • - Local Info/Knowledge Communication
  • Emphasis Grass roots

18
Differences BetweenLibraries and CNs (cont.)
  • VARIABLE PUBLIC LIBRARIES CNs
  • - Formats Multiple, but public Community
  • thinks books computing
  • - Leadership Librarians Grass roots
  • - Education MLS Not yet developed,
  • Requirements Computer related
  • - Funding Tax support (govt.) Universities,
    grants,
  • Patterns donors, govt
  • - Sustainability Assumed Major Concern
  • - Mediation Built-in thru reference Not
    readily available
  • - Public Not hi-tech Computer centered
  • Perceptions

19
Build Collaboration Around Differences
  • Differences can, but need not, create impasses.
  • Recognize them.
  • Minimize them where appropriate.
  • Try to capitalize on them.
  • Consider them in collaboration. They can
    actually bring strength.

20
Why Collaborate?
  • To change perceptions with new messages and new
    experiences
  • To reach a broader audience
  • To gain skill in working with people who are not
    like you
  • To leverage your ability to contribute to the
    networked community
  • To help your community reap the promise of the
    Information Age

21
Collaboration Between Telecommunities
Canada-Industry Canada
  • Support community-based communications
  • Evaluate types of needed services
  • Foster public discussion of how
    telecomm-unications can help community
    development
  • Jointly explore and promote opportunities to
    enhance the long-term development and
    sustainability of CNs/community access sites
  • Promote development of partnerships with
    small-business, industry, non-profit and
    governmental sectors

22
Collaboration Between Telecommunities
Canada-Industry Canada
  • Help communities anticipate the emerging
    information highway and participate in policy
    development that relates to community and CN
    interests
  • Ensure that lessons learned from experience can
    be turned into common practices
  • Advise the government of Canada on questions
    relating to citizen access and electronic space
  • Help other countries to better appreciate the
    benefits of community participation

23
Collaboration Opportunitiesin Local Communities
  • Build on TC-Indus. Can.1997 Agreement
  • On most of the differences categories
  • Place, technology, communication-content
    differences,staff skills.
  • Convening
  • Sharing software models
  • Training
  • Focus on specific problem

24
Collaborations
  • Chebucto Community Net http//www.cfn.cs.dal.ca/Ho
    me.html
  • Three Rivers Free-Net http//trfn.pgh.pa.us/

25
We'd Like to Hear From You
  • The University of MichiganCommunity Connector
  • URL http//www.si.umich.edu/Community/
  • E-mail si.cn_at_umich.edu
  • Address Professor Joan C. Durrance University
    of Michigan School of Information 304 West Hall,
    550 East University Avenue Ann Arbor, MI
    48109-1092
  • Phone 734-763-1569
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