We have all heard how computers and Web access can close the "information gap" that exists between practitioners, especially urban and rural ones. But technology will not suffice. The context in which people use information is just as important as the information itself or the system used to get it.
Laura Syms, a Business and Data Services Librarian at Cape Breton University, has been surveying experienced CED practitioners in order to learn how they find and use information. What did she discover? When looking for information, most respondents trust social contacts more than published sources. In fact, few consider Web searching as "an important means of information gathering" and over 18% do not rely on books and magazines either. Over half would not use the public library for research.
Laura therefore developed Point of Reference™, a reference and referral service for CED groups in rural communities. It educates practitioners about the quality information available to them through the public library system and its partners, the academic libraries. Point of Reference also encourages public libraries to understand themselves social capital that has an important role in the development of the local community.