According to the UN, the Internet is now a human right. As an observer of issues related to the digital divide and network neutrality, I am overjoyed by this proclamation.
“There should be as little restriction as possible to the flow of information via the Internet, except in a few, very exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law,” Mr. La Rue stressed. [and librarians agree]
“In recent months, we have seen a growing movement of people around the world who are advocating for change – for justice, equality, accountability of the powerful and better respect for human rights,” Mr. La Rue said while presenting his new report* on the right to freedom of opinion and expression on the Internet to the UN Human Rights Council.
This is true, and yet we know of bloggers who are jailed in certain countries because of what or how they express themselves. This is a step in the right direction, and hopefully a wake up call for American politicians.
Late last night I decided that I wanted to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Shallows (mock me now). It was pretty late, so I just figured I would download it to my iPad through my Kindle app or iBooks. No such luck. As it turns out, Harry Potter is not available digitally, and yes I did check overdrive too.
This bothers me for a couple of reasons:
1. What are the publishers waiting for? eBooks are here to stay. The technology works, and prevents “theft” of their property, so what’s the hold up?
2. This is also an accessibility issue. There are people in this country, and internationally, who only have access to books through digital means. These people are barred from reading.
3. I prefer books like Harry Potter on the iPad, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
I’m sorry Arthur A. Levine Books, but I will not purchase any of your books now, until you make them available in the medium I want!
I have blogged about both YOUMedia and Whittier Elementary School, both in Chicago. YOUMedia is Chicago’s highly successful digital space for teens. Whittier Elementary School (Chicago Public Schools) was a school where parent’s staged a month long sit-in to restore the schools library.
Well, a recent article explains that the sit-in at Whittier Elementary School was a minor success in regards to the 164 Chicago Public Schools lacking a library. 1 in 4 elementary schools and 51 high schools in Chicago do not have a stand alone professionally staffed library. The deathblow comes from an expert on urban education who states that librarians have become a discretionary purchase.
So in Chicago, kids likely have no access to a library in their schools, but a lucky few have access to games at YOUMedia? Don’t get me wrong, I think YOUMedia is great, and will be the future of libraries. I think Chicago Public Library is a great organization, but I’m just trying to point out the obvious divide here. How is Chicago so supportive of libraries on one-hand and yet also view libraries as discretionary purchases on the other?
The biggest question for me is how are teens suppose to use the YOUMedia center if they have not had access to libraries in their schools? More importantly, how are the kids who most need access to libraries going feel about all of this?