Thursday, March 11, 2004

Information Technology and the Informed Citizen: New Challenges for Government and Libraries. ERIC Digest. This pre-Patriot Act government publication on information literacy and the need for libraries to keep citizens informed is interesting. It looks at many issues such as using libraries as gateways, librarians as educators, and costs but fails entirely to look at national security concerns. The times are always changing...

From the site -

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

If a Nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.... [I]f we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed. (Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816)

The link between popular government and an informed citizenry was a theme that ran throughout Jefferson's writings and efforts, from the establishment of the University of Virginia to his advocacy of public libraries. Every generation since has faced the challenge of achieving an informed citizenry that is capable of making reasoned decisions and acting on those decisions. The current generation of citizens is faced with a three-fold challenge made more difficult by the volume and complexity of information relevant to public affairs: (1) how to access information, (2) how to find the best information for the given task, and (3) how to make sense of the information once obtained (that is, how to transform information into useful knowledge). The burden of citizens in becoming informed has increased dramatically as electronic technology has accelerated the production and transmission of information. As in Jefferson's time, libraries continue to be essential institutions as people in the "Information Age" grapple with their responsibility to become informed.

No comments: