Information Is A Privilege

By Elembis (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us are fortunate enough to be afforded many opportunities and access to resources. For this reason it is easy to take information for granted while not thinking about how actually access to information is a privilege due to many factors such as cultural and socioeconomic.

If you use a search engine like google, you are going to probably find hundreds of thousands of results. How many of these though are scholarly, reputable, reliable and credible resources? Scholarly journals are extremely informative and useful. They normally contain a very high amount of research performed by a credible author. This sounds great right, so what could be the problem? The issue is these articles are not free. I am lucky enough to be attending an institution which provides us access to many databases which contains these reputable scholarly sources. For those who are not attending an institution, they would have to have a good amount of money lying around that they are willing to spend to gain access to these articles. It is important to note that these articles do not come cheap. Many people simply can’t afford access to these sources, I personally wouldn’t be able to if my University didn’t provide us access to them.

Char Booth, a librarian, stated in her blog “ The concept of information privilege situates information literacy in a sociocultural context of justice and access. Information as the media and messages that underlie individual and collective awareness and knowledge building; privilege as the advantages, opportunities, rights, and affordances granted by status and positionality via class, race, gender, culture, sexuality, occupation, institutional affiliation, and political perspective”. I think this is a very powerful statement. I would agree with her and say there is unfortunately such a thing as information privilege. This privilege is afforded to those who are members of an institution who provide access for their students or employees or simply to those who have the financial capabilities to afford it themselves.

I have unfortunately experienced information privilege. Once when I was writing a psychology research paper, it was about 2AM and I finally found a source I thought would work perfectly. Then the site I was using told me I would have to pay about 50$ to have access to the one article. I then realized if I signed it with my university credentials, I would have access. I started thinking and felt sort of guilty. Why do I have access to this article, which was going to help me write a paper, while so many others will not have access to this source. I am not more deserving, so why should I have access while others are denied? The imbalance of information access is prevalent in our society. The questions which remain are how do we bring awareness to those who don’t see the information privilege in society and how do we go forward and make it more affordable and easier to attain so that everyone can have equal opportunities.

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