Building Inclusive Libraries to Bridge the Digital Divide presented at the 3rd International Conference on E-Learning in Cape Town, South Africa, June 26-27, 2008
Moisey, Susan D.
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In rural communities, common barriers to the use of web-based information and communication technology include a lack of equipment and connectivity, as well as expertise and literacy. These barriers are especially common for people who are economically or socially disadvantaged, such as individuals with disabilities and others in marginalized groups (e.g., aboriginal people, new immigrants, those living in poverty). The Inclusive Libraries Initiative has been designed to address these barriers. Since 2003, this project has been fostering the development of inclusive libraries in Northeast Alberta, the second-most-westerly province in Canada. The project is based on the premise that local libraries are ideally positioned to offer access to high-quality computer and online technology, including assistive technology, as well as expertise in their use. Libraries are natural supports that can be developed to increase community capacity, thereby enhancing the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, as well as those in other marginalized groups, in the communities where they live, work, and learn. This presentation will present the outcomes that are being achieved through this project and the lessons learned along the way.