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Cybrarian Project Executive Summary



Below is information are some the Cybrarian Project in the United Kingdom.  It was contributed by Atul Sharda.  The Center would like to express our gratitude to Atul for making us aware of this project.  If you have further questions you may send them to the Center at icdri@icdri.org  or directly to those working on the project at: cybrarian.mailbox@dfes.gsi.gov.uk 

The Cybrarian initiative has been developed in order to help address the problem of a digital divide that is emerging across Britain. As an increasing range of popular, commercial and government services are delivered over the Internet, and as ICT skills become a prerequisite for many jobs, the DfES has highlighted the importance of an initiative that will encourage those with no experience of, or interest in, or ability to use, the Internet to use an on-line service that will be designed to appeal them despite their limited levels of confidence in this new technology.

The vision for Cybrarian is therefore to encourage increased Internet usage throughout the UK; to help develop basic ICT skills among users; to provide easy access to information and knowledge services that will be of interest to target users (i.e. informal learning); to allow target users to become involved in the electronic community; and as a result, be able to engage more positively in modern society.

The target users for Cybrarian will be those who do not yet use the Internet, and in particular, the socially excluded and disabled. The total addressable group could be as large as 24 million citizens. Cybrarian’s success will depend on how its services are promoted and the attractiveness of its services, but it is estimate that there could be 400,000 users by 2005, and 1.2 million users by 2008.

Content for Cybrarian’s services will be provided by a range of partners, and will be presented to users in a way that is accessible by novice users, those with poor learning or literacy skills and those with poor sight and other moderate disabilities. The range of content provided will be carefully managed to appeal to users’ interests and needs, and will facilitate informal learning about areas of interest to individual users.

To succeed, Cybrarian will require three key components:

  • The service and its benefits will need to be marketed to target users to raise their awareness of it and encourage them to overcome any initial barriers to trying the service;

  • Sufficient content will need to be accessed and reversioned in order to create services that appeal to users, satisfy their needs for particular information and encourage them to use the service regularly and progressively;

  • Technology will need to be brought together to manage and deliver the services, to allow users simply to search for and find the information they are looking for, and to present information in a manner that accommodates users with various special needs.

It is important that use of Cybrarian will stimulate greater ICT confidence and skills among its regular users. It will also encourage and enable users to take advantage of online learning services, as well as providing a bridge to more formalised online educational training for the more ambitious users. If Cybrarian is successful in attracting users who would otherwise not be encouraged to go online, it will be successful in bringing the benefits of ICT skills and online learning opportunities to a much wider audience, and in particular, to including those target users who are currently separated by an electronic divide in society.



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