In reading "Public Libraries and Networked Information Services in Low-Income Communities", I started to wonder about the common assumption that it is the role of libraries to provide public Internet access. The article mentions that traditionally the purpose of libraries has been to give people access to books, not introduce them to new technology. And libraries didn't really play a significant role in helping people to gain access to radio, telephones, and televisions.
Libraries have provided free Internet access for years and I wouldn't suggest changing now, but should this really be the responsibility of libraries? Why not have, say, post offices with public Internet terminals? Or maybe the local tourism board should be concerned with setting up public Internet access at tourist information centers. Or perhaps libraries really are the best institutions to address this issue after all...but I thought it would be interesting to question the assumption and think about whether any other public institutions should be called upon to help out too.