Knight Commission calls for funding America’s libraries for civic dialogue

The Knight Commission released its report Informing Communities:  Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age on Friday, October 2, 2009.  The Report and Discussion are available at:  Knight encourages participation in the national dialogue on the Commission’s recommendations by discussing the report and joining the Healthy Community Forum.  

The Report includes three categories of findings and recommendations:

1.     Maximizing the Availability of Relevant and Credible Information
2.     Enhancing the Information Capacity of Individuals
3.     Promoting Public Engagement

According to the Commission, “The questions America faces at this point in its information history, however, go beyond questions of strategy to questions of values. The Knight Commission has recommended a series of strategies that, in various ways, exhort our major public and nonprofit institutions to give new priority to values of openness, inclusion, and engagement. The values questions posed are equally profound, however, for individual citizens and for the institutions of the media.”

The commission’s recommendation regarding libraries, include:

America’s libraries need sufficient funding to serve as centers for information, training, and civic dialogue. Public libraries are located in nearly all communities in the United States. Most of them are wired for Internet service. Nearly all offer public Internet, and almost three quarters are the only providers of free public computer and Internet access in their communities.

3 thoughts on “Knight Commission calls for funding America’s libraries for civic dialogue

  1. Elizabeth Neill

    One more comment in regard to local journalism and libraries:

    I’m excited by the report’s emphasis on local journalism. I think our community and many others would benefit from online local journalism and I think our public libraries could also play the host to local journalism efforts.

  2. Elizabeth Neill

    I would like to echo and expand Clare’s comment above. I work in a community where a significant investment in computers outside the library has been made. That’s wonderful in so many ways .. it really goes a long way toward “bridging the digital divide.”

    But an opportunity to “add value” to the equation has been lost. Were those computers located in the library, those computers could have access to library data bases that could help people find out about a variety of personal interests including car and home repair, health information, and how to acquire job search skills. Many public libraries have become de-facto centers of basic library skill instruction.

    In our community, I hope in the future the library and our computing will find some way to work together to “add value” to our community’s computers so that our citizens can gain as much benefit as possible: learning basic computer skills and using the computers to find jobs, gain jobs skills, gain access to accurate information, and pursue both professional and personal interests.

  3. Clare

    Recommendation 7 is very exciting, but I think it misses one crucial connection. When the commission states: “The Commission also endorses digital literacy funding for community institutions, such as community centers and community-based development organizations. . . . Community organizations that
    already serve as trusted information providers to underserved populations are well situated to help integrate their clients more effectively into the community’s information networks.” I think that the library is a trusted information provider! I hope that the commission meant to say “community institutions, including libraries.”

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