Monday, October 29, 2012

The impact of public access venues and the benefits of libraries

Public access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play an important role in development. Communities benefit when people can access information and communicate with experts and people in their social networks to learn about health, jobs, education, leisure activities, or whatever inspires them. When access to ICTs is public and available to everyone in the community, such as in public libraries, telecenters, and cybercaf├ęs, it can be an effective tool for those that need it most.

In some countries, public libraries deliver this core service. There are over 230,000 libraries worldwide, most in developing countries. Many of these libraries offer free computer and Internet access, sometimes the only options for free and reliable access, yet they are often overlooked when development agencies implement policies to promote public information and communication.

This brief describes some of the emerging findings of the Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies related to the impact of public access on development, including the unique benefits successful public libraries offer.

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