I've been thinking about the concept of "information as power" as I prepare to support your exploration of topics related to social privilege. Looking at the world through my own professional lens, I tend to consider how the availability of information impacts so many types of privilege in our society today. Much of our historical record has been created and disseminated by those in power. At various times throughout history, women, minorities, the poor, and other marginalized people have been denied both access and voice through forced illiteracy and limited access to information and tools that would allow them to make informed decisions and engage in the social discussion in meaningful and permanent ways.
The advent of a free and open internet of information has birthed a social media revolution that, at first, seems to break down these barriers. Information appears to be free and the people appear to be in power. But is it true? Or does the proliferation of information simply develop into a blizzard of white noise under which reliable information remains hidden? Does privilege still lie with those who have the funds to access information locked behind passwords and firewalls and paid internet access?
Libraries--in our schools, in our local communities, at the state and national level--offer us ways to overcome these barriers. Publicly supported database subscriptions, access to the internet and computers that are often out of reach for some citizens break down those hidden walls we too often forget about. As you think to yourself,"I can find anything on the internet," or "information is free" consider that. As for me, I'm committed to making sure that you know how to take advantage of the tools that come with the "privilege" of living in a democratic society that relies on us all taking part.
~ Mrs. Cowell
Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin
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