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Digital divide: how can digital libraries bridge the gap?

Chowdhury, G. (2002) Digital divide: how can digital libraries bridge the gap? In: Digital Libraries: people, knowledge and technology - 5th International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries, 2002-12-11 - 2002-12-14, Singapore.

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Abstract

Recent developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have, while making our life easier, created a social divide that is known as the digital divide. Statistics show that there are significant disparities among the population in the developed and developing world in terms of the accessibility to, and use of, ICT. Research and development in digital libraries do not only require sophisticated ICT, they also call for huge investment in terms of money and intellectual resources. Developing countries are lagging behind in digital library research and development due to the digital divide, as well as due to the lack of appropriate resources required for research and development in digital libraries. As a result users in the developing world are being deprived of digital library services. This paper argues that some recent global digital library developments can be used by users in the developing countries, and thus digital libraries can play a significant role in bridging the gap. These developments include subject gateways, digital reference services, free access to e-journals and e-books in many areas, and e-print archives and free digital libraries. The paper ends with an action plan that may be used by library and information professionals in the developing countries, as well as developed countries, to exploit the benefits of these digital information resources and services, and thus to some extent can bridge the gap of digital divide.