WASHINGTON – Today, in a statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the American Library Association (ALA) addressed the critical yet unacknowledged role public libraries play in delivering E-government services to the American people.
Increasingly, government agencies refer individuals to their local public libraries for assistance and access to the Internet for citizen-government interactions. Yet public libraries are not considered members of the E-government team.
ALA’s statement (PDF), for the Committee’s hearing on E-government, highlighted the stress these E-government services are placing on public libraries’ infrastructure and suggested taking steps toward creating a partnership between public libraries and the government in order to improve E-government delivery to citizens.
“Libraries strongly support the E-government Act, since it has enhanced access to government information,” said Lynne Bradley, Director of ALA’s Office of Government Relations. “However, since its enactment, public libraries are often the only organizations that can help individuals interact with government agencies and access E-government services.”
“Public libraries are open to taking on the challenge of E-government initiatives,” Bradley continued, “yet the library community has seen little collaboration or support from federal agencies for the significant increase in services public libraries provide on their behalf.”
Recent studies reflect that this increased reliance on public libraries for access to E-government services has placed new pressures on public library’s technology and personnel infrastructures. Public libraries are concerned that they will not be able to maintain the quality of public Internet access, especially given the demands of the Web 2.0 environment.
ALA’s statement is available for download here: