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Structuring access: The role of public access centers in the “Digital Divide.” Austin, TX: University of Texas. Available online at: http://www.utexas.edu/research/tipi/Reports/joe_ICA.pdf

By Becky Lentz, Stan Main and Julie Taylor


This paper explores ways in which public libraries and community centers structure access to the Internet in disadvantaged and minority communities and in so doing, contribute indirectly to the “digital divide. ” The study site offers a best case scenario in terms of opportunities for free public access by poor and minority communities to the Internet. Numerous public access sites have been made available to community residents, allowing researchers to look beyond typical access challenges, focusing instead on experiential aspects of Internet use in these sites. Through interviews and observations, researchers noted several factors at the local level that both facilitate and limit residents ’ access to and use of the Internet. Findings suggest that while public libraries are a favored site for many federal and foundation programs designed to bridge the digital divide, as they are currently configured, they may not offer the best settings in which to engage those considered vulnerable to that divide. Structuring Access: The Role of Public Access Centers in the “Digital Divide” b

Year: 2000
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