Category: IMLS Rural Hotspots

Report: The digital inclusion role of rural libraries: social inequalities through space and place

Abstract: A great deal of scholarship on broadband deployment and federal policies has positioned rural America through a deficit framework: rural parts of the country have older populations (and therefore not tech savvy), are poor (and therefore justifiably ignored by the market), too remote (therefore outside of legitimate profit-making enterprise), and losing population (and therefore significance). This research examines rural Internet connectivity through the lens of local libraries lending hotspots for Internet connectivity. Qualitative data gathered in 24 rural communities in Kansas and Maine undercut simplistic notions regarding how communication systems operate in environments ignored by normative market operations. Financial precarity and pressures from social and economic institutions compel rurally based individuals and families to assemble piecemeal Internet presence and connectivity. The public library plays a crucial role in providing Internet resources and stands out in the rural environment as a site that straddles public trust and local.

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Video: What is a Hotspot?

Dr. Sharon Strover answers the question “What’s a hotspot?” and discusses library Hotspot lending through the Kansas State Library program with community members. Karen Gillingham, the Goodland Librarian, feels that these...

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