Libraries: Bridging the Digital Divide for Latinos

Prof. Patricia Montiel Overall
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Contrary to current information about closing the gap between those with access to technology and those without it (A Nation Online), many citizens are seriously disadvantaged by their inability to access and use technology. Latinos are among the underserved population. Efforts to address the needs of this ethnic group have been unsuccessful in part because of inadequate information about what is required to assist this community become information literate (besides providing computers). In particular, cultural and language issues must be addressed if equity of access is to be attained. This paper examines the cultural and linguistic needs of Latinos and proposes libraries and library professionals as a potential resource to bridge the "Digital Divide." Libraries have become community centers for technology for underserved populations for several reasons: the accessibility to technology and ongoing instructional support for different age groups and multiple levels of proficiency by library professionals; their broad understanding of diversity including cultural, language and age issues; the focus on information literacy (the ability to find and use information); and the establishment of a community environment for information gathering. The political implications of these issues will be discussed and the long-term economic effect of the limited representation of Latinos will be addressed. Based on an understanding of the cultural and linguistic needs of Latinos, this paper argues that local public libraries and library professionals can be a potential resource to bridge the "Digital Divide."

Keywords: Latinos, Digital Divide, Libraries
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Libraries: Bridging the Digital Divide for Latinos

Prof. Patricia Montiel Overall

Assistant Professor, College of Social and Behavioral Science- School of Information Resources and Library Science, The University of Arizona

Dr Overall received her doctoral degree from Stanford University where she focused on the communicative competence of Spanish-speaking students. Her early professional experience included teaching elementary, middle and high school students. Dr Overall has taught at the University of Santa Clara, and the University of Arizona College of Education. She has also provided teacher preparation courses in Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico, in conjunction with the Secretaría de Educación y Cultura de Sonora, and the United States Information Agency (USIA). Current research interests include the effect of teacher-librarian collaboration on student outcomes.

Ref: T05P0304