I’ve learned a great deal in this course about the potential of social media tools to help advance the mission and goals of libraries and other LIS institutions; as the world rapidly advances towards an increasing use of online and mobile resources, we can’t forget that issues of access to technology and these resources can’t be overlooked. The so called digital divide and information literacy go hand in hand with access: patrons without the means or knowledge to use and interact with all the great tools we’ve discussed will undoubtedly suffer personally and professionally.
The traditional means still exist, but all the great content that libraries extend online will remain a click too far for those without internet access, those whom don’t have a computer at home, or those unfamiliar that such tools exist. Yet, libraries have a responsibility to such patrons and indeed some of the very tools discussed here can be and have been utilized to bridge these gaps. What first comes to mind are videos and screencasts, which have been used extensively by academic libraries (like our own King Library) and a small number of public libraries to help patrons understand how to do research, access databases, and could theoretically be used for an infinite number of applications. The rising use of smartphones and statistics that youth, and especially minorities use these devices to go online more so than others means that this is an area of possible focus. Economically disadvantaged groups and minorities are less likely than other groups to have access and the skills to use this access effectively. Libraries, be they public, school, or academic can step in to educate and ensure patrons can and know how to use the abundant offerings the web has to offer.