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Next generation/net generation? An investigation into children's ICT use and the impact on public libraries
Thesis or dissertation
The announcement of the installation of the People’s Network in public libraries has provoked a re-evaluation of the library’s role in society. Children in particular are growing up in a world immersed in technology: many have home computers and also use them at school. Libraries need to consider the services they offer and whether these are appropriate for the Net generation. In particular, should libraries focus more on providing ICT access for the information poor? This study aimed to increase the knowledge about children’s ICT abilities and their use of public libraries with a view to establishing the relationship between the two. It was hoped that this would aid future planning for all who work with children. Several case study schools were selected within Sheffield and the opinions of parents, teachers and librarians were sought to examine the issue. Questionnaires, telephone interviews and face-to-face interviews were all used to elicit information. This was then examined in the light of the locations and situations of the various schools. The main issues covered included children’s use of ICT; the differences between the results from the schools; changes in computer use and technology, and children’s use of public libraries. Results showed that children used computers mainly at home and for entertainment, but their keyboard skills were often lacking. Those children who were not familiar with computers did not use them enough to gain more experience. Initiatives to help people to get low cost computer access were welcomed, but seen as unnecessary by those with their own access. Public libraries were also found to have an overwhelming ‘book’ image and many people did not know about or had not considered ICT as a possible part of the service. Library ICT access at present appeared not to benefit children who needed to develop certain skills. Therefore recommendations are made for further publicity and to encourage teaching ICT in libraries.
Completed under the author's maiden name of Harding.
University of Sheffield MA thesis (2000)