The World’s Libraries Online
In many parts of the world, the best developed information infrastructure is
supported by libraries. A country’s national library typically houses information on legislation, historical archives, patents and sometimes court and tax records. University libraries store information on research and are often a gateway to international information services. But not all library portals are created equal.
Public libraries serve a broader clientele, often by providing internet terminals and access to electronic databases. But not every country’s library infrastructure is up to the challenging task of being an information gateway for citizens. Not all national, university, and public libraries have the capacity to maintain a website, and not all provide website access in the range of languages that their citizens read, write, and speak.
GRAPHIC: Comparing the World’s Wired Libraries
Three fourths of national libraries have Web sites but only 54 percent load in the country’s national language. For example, Tajikistan’s national library offers online access in Russian, but not Tajik. Sixty-nine percent of national libraries load in English but only 20 to 25 percent of the world’s people speak English.