Public Libraries and Developing Countries

In developing countries, the internet is one of the most important features that public libraries have to offer. In public libraries, farmers, fishermen and more are able to use the internet to market their products and keep up with current prices. Agricultural information and technology in the library are vitally important in developing countries.

The Gates Foundation is seeking to make the world’s public libraries assets in communities as centres for information and technology. They advocate for the equality of opportunity, to access online information and skills to interpret the information, for all individuals, especially those in developing nations or poor communities. The Gates Foundation is trying to help public libraries reinvent themselves as online information centres, to help their communities in a drastic way. The foundation began by funding free Internet access in public libraries around the US. They have expanded globally and are supporting access to the Internet worldwide.

This has been an important program as developing countries need to access online information to learn about new techniques and ideas. Having access to online databases will help promote reading, research and learning. Mobile devices are an important aspect of this in developing countries. Many do not have access to the internet in their homes, so their mobile devices are their only way to access the Internet. With mobile devices, individuals can pay bills, promote their products online, connect with communities around the world, read the news and have access to information.

Here is a video demonstrating what the program has done in rural areas of the US:

In schools, I think that mobile devices could have a very positive impact on learning. I was recently teaching a class in the library and asked students to participate in an online discussion. There are only 9 computers in the library, so the remainder of the students needed to use their phones to participate. It was really neat to see a group of students using their devices in such a positive and collaborative way. I have noticed that phones can be a distraction, but with guidance and support, students can learn how to use them to further their learning. This many change the way their use their phones outside of school as well.

References

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2017). Global libraries. Retrieved from https://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Global-Libraries

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2013). Libraries: changing lives, transforming communities. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/7cwsrgMOcLA