For my first digital story critique, I have selected a talk from TEDxCharleston by Andrew Roskill titled “Get a read on this – libraries bridging the digital divide”. I have chosen this story for a number of reasons including my interest in libraries as a library professional, my interest in the role of libraries as educational resources, my familiarity with TED Talks, and my increasing worries about the impact of digital divide.

In this review, I will critique the presentation using the following assessment traits:

  • Flow, organization, and pacing
  • Presentation and Performance
  • Story

In this very effective presentation, Andrew Roskill – a media professional – describes the current impact of digital divide and how libraries could (and should) play a key role in addressing the needs of their patrons. More often than not, disenfranchised people in the United States and worldwide do not have access to technology. In many cases, people do not even have access to the internet in their homes. Such a disparity singles out libraries as one of the few outlets for using a computer, checking email, browsing Facebook, and developing skills with specialized software such as Microsoft Office (“digital literacy”). Unfortunately, many libraries are not addressing as much as they should or in some cases not at all. In order for so many people who live in poverty to improve their skillsets and succeed in the modern world, libraries need to become “cutting edge technology centers”. The author uses statistics on wealth inequality, technology access, and attitudes towards libraries to make his point. Furthermore, he concludes that libraries need to strive to make their services and resources on par with the products of a company like Apple (that people are willing to pay for). In some cases, libraries such as the Charleston Public Library have already done this. The bottom line is that libraries will struggle to improve their services and attract patrons, but it is the only way to fight poverty.

Flow, organization, and pacing: The content in this presentation was very well organized. Andrew Roskill opens with statistics on poverty, continues with other statistics from Pew Research on attitudes towards libraries, demonstrates the features of the Charleston Public Library website, and then concludes with a “call to arms”. By the end of the presentation, I felt more motivated than ever to advocate libraries everywhere. At no point did I encounter disruption or feel that my attention was wandering. Overall, it was a very well organized presentation with excellent flow and pacing.

Research: This presentation featured extensive research. The speaker’s technological and entrepreneurial background ensured that he would have extensive knowledge on this topic (despite not being a librarian). The statistics on income inequality, information access, and attitudes towards libraries helped emphasize the main point of the talk. Clearly, Mr. Roskill knows his stuff.

Story: The only area in which I can find room for improvement is the “story” aspect of the presentation. It was very compelling and captivating, but I feel like the presentation could have benefited from a more personal narrative. Overall, the story about libraries combating digital divide was very well present but an anecdote from the presenter might have improved it.

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