If you live in Ontario, no matter how big or rural the community you live in, you have access to the services of Knowledge Ontario through public libraries and schools. The organization has been helping strengthen libraries by delivering innovative and leading-edge services, managing digital content, creating digitally-savvy users and learners, and providing equal access to information for all users since its creation four years ago.
Unfortunately, with the announcement last month that the Ministry of Culture will not provide it with funding for 2010, Knowledge Ontario is in jeopardy, and it will take Ontarians to change that. KO needs about $4 million to sustain its current databases and to keep its commitments to future projects, but its request for additional funding from the ministry was denied. Instead, the government has pledged $2 million for electronic resourcing but only to be administered to Ontario public libraries through the Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service – North.
Knowledge Ontario is particularly important for students in rural Ontario communities who, when denied resources other more advantaged communities have access to, may not be able to reach their full potential education-wise and may even end up dropping out of school. The more access each Ontario student has to quality digital resources, the easier it is for him or her to learn and to be successful.
Of course, it is not just students who will be affected. One of KO’s key mandates is to ensure consistent digital resources, services, and tools to include all Ontarians, regardless of which part of the province they live in or if they attend school.
As KO states on its website: “If part of the population has the digital tools and resources and part does not, there can be no expectation that students will succeed, that people will achieve more, work more productively or contribute to knowledge and innovation. Knowledge Ontario’s initiatives are critical in overcoming the digital divide and enabling Ontarians to develop the digital literacy needed to succeed in the 21st century.”
Here is an editorial from a writer at The North Bay Nugget about the importance of KO’s services to rural/small-town libraries.
In addition, more than 85% of school boards in Ontario currently use KO services; licensed databases in particular are used heavily by boards.
News of the funding has many people up in arms, and bloggers are working hard to spread the word about the implications of this announcement as well as what outraged members of the community can do about it. Go here to find some of the tools they’re using to speak out and to let their elected officials know how they feel.
Here’s the question: What are the implications of the Ontario government denying funding to an organization that is providing equal access to educational resources and tools?