Journal of Educational Media and Library Sciences

Volume 33 No. 2, pp. 158-171 (December 1995)


Elizabeth S. Smith

This article discusses how major economic, educational, social, legal, and political events in America, from its beginnings to present, impacted information access, and draws a parallel between the evolution of American Democracy and equal information access. Today as in the past, the laws and customs of the day dictate to a large degree who accesxs information. In pre-revolutionary times, informtion access was selective, enjoyed by the wealthy privileged class, ususJly limited to white, Protestant, well born males. As machines were introduced into American manufacturing, as educational opportunities became available to morc Americans, and when Congress and other governmental agencies passed laws that included more Americans in the democratic process, so did access to information become a reality for a growing number of Americans. Full educational opportunities for all Americans were deemed essential to a democratic society in the l9th and 20th centuries, and had direct impact on equalizing information access. The same philosophy should guide the 21st century, where knowledge of information processing skills and principles is essential to information access in the electronic age of information, and for the continual evolvement of democracy. The schools and colleges must respond with creative methods to fulfill its mission.
Keywords: Equal information access, American democracy

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