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Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide 1st Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1598844535
ISBN-10: 1598844539
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Editorial Reviews


• Discusses the digital divide and the library's role in bridging it

• Helps readers understand the problem, the challenges, and the players involved in resolving the digital divide

• Describes a "toolkit" of library resources needed to get started

• Provides proven techniques for improving technology instruction at the library

"Librarians who feel lost in the technical revolution will find this book an essential guide to help familiarize themselves with basic computer usage and terms. West explains all elementary concepts in a friendly, sympathetic way. Even the most reluctant librarians, information providers, or users will find confidence in this easy-to-understand primer"


Library Journal, Starred Review

Book Description

Millions of Americans—35 percent of adults—live without broadband access at home. Perhaps more surprising, as of late 2009, 22 percent of adults still did not use the Internet at all. New government initiatives and services mean that Internet access and understanding is no longer an optional skill. How can libraries help close the gap?


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Libraries Unlimited; 1 edition (May 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598844539
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598844535
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,720,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jessamyn West is a community technology librarian and Director of Operations of the massive group blog She lives in a rural area of Central Vermont where she teaches basic computer skills and assists tiny libraries with technology planning and implementation. She maintains an online presence at and Her favorite color is orange.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth West on June 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not a librarian. I'm Jessamyn's mom and I originally bought the book just to show support. I didn't actually think I'd read it, since I assumed it was aimed mainly at librarians. After flipping through the first few pages, though, I was hooked. The text is highly readable, friendly, and practical. I found it fascinating because it is as much about learning as it is about technology. I tutor a few senior citizens on using computers, so perhaps that's why I responded to this book so strongly. Jessamyn explains how to teach a complex subject and make it accessible to various audiences. She points out misconceptions that novice technology users often have and tells why those misconceptions might be fostered accidentally by experienced users.

One real strength of this book is its ability to remind technology users of how much they know that they have forgotten that they actually learned. For example, a newbie may think that a feature of one particular browser or email program is common to all. When faced with a different browser or program, the person might panic. Newcomers do not know what preferences can easily be changed, or what a default setting might be. They don't know which email is accessible from any computer and which is stored only on their machine. They often open a web page and then read every word, rather than scanning for what is relevant. Such differences mean only that they are inexperienced, not stupid.

Librarians should find this book immensely helpful, but so will others, I think. It is filled with useful strategies, resources, and tips. I recommend it wholeheartedly not only to librarians, but also to community education teachers and technology tutors. Yes, I'm a proud mom, but I'm also a writer of educational materials and a longtime tutor, so I know what types of materials are helpful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary B. Danko on June 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book gives a no nonsense, practical approach to teaching basic computer skills in a fun, readable manner while also making many valid points about the very real digital divide in this country.

I found every chapter very helpful and have already accessed the handout links that are included.

Every rural librarian should read this book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a must-have toolbox for anyone who teaches digital literacy... education or library science students especially. I am a Library & Information Science student. School is filled with dry academic prose and research, but not always practical applications. This book is a practical, interesting, hands-on guide from someone who knows what she is talking about.

Concise background information on the digital divide, understanding how to be an effective teacher of digital skills, and a complete, current guide to a wide variety of web resources are some of the highlights.

If you want to set up a digital literacy program that works, this is the one book to have.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By betsyedu on July 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
West distills all her experience and knowledge about technology and libraries to write an important book about how librarians can and should be reaching out to those who are not technologically savvy. It is this un-digital population in America who are being slowly, but surely, left behind in our society. West makes the argument that it is America's libraries who must fill this much needed (and free) service to teach computers to everyone. She also thinks that our librarians must help people understand why they should be interested in learning about technology, and gives practical solutions in implementing such strategies.

As a library student with one more year of work left, I believe that West has written an invaluable tool that all librarians should read and put into practice. One day, when I become a rural librarian, I know this book will become a resource I will use again and again in starting a successful technology outreach program.

P.S. In my opinion, the first step in "Winning the Future" is to fund America's libraries and hire more school librarians. Arm both with current technology, and watch as we become a smarter, more informed society created by a smarter, more informed democracy.
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Without a Net: Librarians Bridging the Digital Divide
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