Access to ICT in developing countries - the value of libraries

The Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington's Information School explores how information and communications technologies (ICT) can impact communities - in particular those which face social and economic challenges - and explores how public libraries can help.Its latest briefing paper (Public access and development: The impact of public access venues and the benefits of libraries) explores the impact of public access to the internet and computers in developing countries, and in particular explores the value of public libraries in enabling this access and improving ICT skills.  5000 users of public access services were surveyed in Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, and the PhilippinesThe importance of public access venues

  • Half of those surveyed said they had first used computers at a public access venue
  • 62% first used the internet in such a venue
  • 50% said that these venues were the most important place they honed their internet skills
  • 34% said that public access venues are their only route to internet access
A range of positive impacts were mentioned by those surveyedThese include improved communication (79%); education (78%); meeting new people (73%); access to employment resources (57%); access to government information and services (40%) and access to health information (37%).The benefit of librariesSome activities are more likely to occur in a library setting and with a greater impact.  These include accessing health and government services.  This may reflect the additional support provided in public libraries.Public access to ICT plays a critical role in development and libraries play an important role in this.You can access the briefing, and more information about TASCHA, here.