Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Information Technology and the Informed Citizen: New Challenges for Government and Libraries.

Information Technology and the Informed Citizen: New Challenges for Government and Libraries. This is an essay from 1991. I find the topic interesting as a librarian. However, I also think it is noteworthy for this blog as it begins by quoting Thomas Jefferson.

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.

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