Housing project wifi and the future of academic libraries

I posted recently about my interest in how educational technology ties into issues of social justice, in a very broad sense.  That’s what got me interested in librarianship, in education, and in technology–how these things can help move us forward together, in a world where things seem naturally to fall apart.

I noticed a great example of a technology-focused social justice project in this article on WiredMuni Wi-Fi Power Hope at San Francisco Housing Project.  It’s a great example of the sort of thing we should consider when we think about those ACRL Top Ten Assumptions For the Future of Academic Libraries.

I agree with most of those assumptions–I think we’re looking at a future of greater digitization, more demand and funding for technology-based services, increased distance learning, and so on.  That means we need to start thinking now about how we’ll  make sure that everyone gets to come along for the ride.  If we don’t want to see the digital divide in our communities and student bodies get wider and wider, we should probably make sure everyone has a decent Internet connection before they even come to university.

The project described above was carried out by the Community Technology Foundation of California, which looks like a very cool group.  I’d be interested to see whether there’s a role for groups like ACRL or ALA in connecting with these kinds of socially-engaged education and technology projects.  We know that student success in university actually depends in large part on what kinds of opportunities they get before they ever walk onto a campus, so maybe IS, LITA, and SRRT should get together around a table and start talking about this stuff.

Quote of the day, sent to me by someone working in sustainable architecture and design:

“My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”

–Peter Golkin, museum spokesman (1966- )

2 thoughts on “Housing project wifi and the future of academic libraries

  1. Laura Unger says:

    One project that is working with both library groups and others interested in the digital divide and how libraries can help, is sponsored by the Communications Workers of America. It is called Speed Matters and it’s website is http://www.speedmatters.com. It’s policy paper has several policy suggestions in expanding broadband access that I think you might find very helpful. On their document page they have a study on Public Libaries and the internet.

  2. John Hoffman says:

    Digital inclusion is one of the reasons CTFC has been an outspoken advocate of community wireless intitiatives, such as the SF Tech Connect:

    http://www.sfconnect.org/AboutUs/index.php/tech_connect/ptc_our_mission.html

    We also supported the Little Tokyo Wireless Community project, which is launching next week:

    http://www.unwiredadventures.com/unwire/2007/04/celebrate_the_l.html

    In addition, we’ve worked with community libraries and community technology centers to create content that helps define and advance their mission. Southern California Library created a wonderful little video as part of our Digital Storytelling Institute. It won a Digi award and can be viewed here:

    And yes, CTFC is a very cool place to work.

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