Good papers were presented at the eGovernment track at HICSS-42. One particular paper that attracted my attention was the paper of John Bertot titled Emerging Role of Public Librarians as E-Government Providers. According to the paper libraries are becoming a central place for certain populations to access e-Government services. Some of these services you can see in the following figure taken from the article:
One of the main findings of the article is that, the demand for e-government services in libraries pose challenges. Suddenly librarians are requested to do things they were not trained for. For example, help filling up a driving license form, a birth certificate, helping with medical records etc… Add to that the belief that many librarians share about their “neutral” role, and consequenly the article shows that librarians in some cases may serve as an obstacle to e-government deployment in Libraries. I thought one way to interprete their reluctance can be through Network Gatekeeping Theory . Gatekeepers have different rationales for gatekeeping and so librarians – it looks like one of these is the attempt to preserve their culture, the librarian’s culture. E-government activities may be grasped as a threat to their training, to their neutral professional stance. Also, from a power perspective, some of them do not have enough skills to help users/patrons. That makes them feel uncomfortable and maybe afraid to be reflected externally as non-professionals or technically not-competent.
BTW – It was nice to learn that there are 17,000 public libraries in the US (which is more than the number of McDonalds branches in the US).