Do Libraries with Free Internet Access Make a Difference in Small, Rural Communities?



Because to paraphrase Ice-T, “Farmin’ ain’t easy.”

Watching Librarians + Internet = Better Tomatoes posted by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) I counted at least seven variables that the tomato growers in this Ukranian village have to think about: planting time, harvesting time, nutrients, watering, horse breeds, farm machinery,  and which varieties of tomato they should plant. I’m sure there are many, many other decisions they have to make every year. Without easy access to the Internet, how would you make all the hundreds of routine decisions at home and work? For myself, I imagine I’d spend more time at the library and more time curled up in a state of decision-paralysis.  Still the complex story this short video tells is a perfect example of why poor, rural communities need librarians and free Internet access even more than wealthy areas. 

And you can see that the librarian in this town is much more than an information gatekeeper: she’s a teacher, a facilitator and an evangelist. It’s hard to imagine this free Internet line having such an impact without her attention and hard work. It’s also nice to see the effects of Internet access quantified so strikingly. The rural region in this video doubled their tomato production after their Internet connection arrived.