The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, Inc. (viNGN) considers the territory’s public libraries among the most critical of our Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) because they are centralized repositories of knowledge, history, genealogical information, and form the foundation of learning, discussion and critical thought for all ages.
Our Virgin Islands Public Libraries host Public Computer Centers (PCCs) which provide free access to computers and the internet to local residents who would like to take the free Cyberlearning Basic Digital Literacy Course (passing the Master Exam entitles users to go on to higher-tier IT and professional courses, also for free). The PCCs also permit those without computer access to apply for jobs, learn new skills, communicate with loved ones and associates; even absolute beginners can learn how to use mouse and keyboard and all the things they’ll need to one day be independent and ready to take on new challenges.
With the advent of so much availability of digital formats, social media and online wikis, many have questioned the role of libraries in our communities.
Please note this interesting and comprehensive Pew Research Internet Project report on the continued importance of our public libraries in the grand scheme of everyday life and the pursuit of personal growth and fulfillment. In fact, “30% of Americans ages 16 and older are highly engaged with public libraries, and an additional 39% fall into medium engagement categories.”
Additionally, “Work by the Pew Research Center has shown that print books are still central to Americans’ library use, just as they remain central in Americans’ overall reading habits. In fact, though more Americans than ever are reading e-books (28% of adults ages 18 and older, as of January 2014), few have abandoned print entirely; just 4% of readers read e-books exclusively. Still, many Americans say they would be interested in exploring a range of technological services at public libraries, from personalized reading recommendations and online “Ask a Librarian” services to media kiosks and mobile apps.”