Information access and information literacy under siege: The potentially devastating effects of the proposed 2017 White House budget on already-marginalized populations in the United States

  • Courtney Lawrence Douglass The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
  • Ursula Gorham The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
  • Renee F. Hill The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
  • Kelly M. Hoffman The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
  • Paul T. Jaeger The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
  • Gagan Jindal The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
  • Beth St. Jean The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
Keywords: Information, Budget Cuts, Information Access, Information Literacy, Health Literacy, Libraries, Librarianship, Neoliberalism, Marginalized Populations

Abstract

This paper explores major proposed funding cuts to the United States 2017 federal budget, how these cuts align with a neoliberal ideology, and how they ultimately diminish information access and literacy among marginalized populations including, but not limited to, the elderly, working poor, impoverished communities, people of color, elderly, chronically ill, and disabled. A great many of these effects to access and literacy would directly alter the ways in which people are able — or unable — to access and use the Internet and all of the ways in which it is essential to information and engagement. By examining the benefits of the human interest organizations that serve these populations and are in danger of losing funding, this paper examines the ways in which the proposed cuts will exacerbate existing inequities in education and opportunity in society.

Author Biographies

Courtney Lawrence Douglass, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Courtney Douglass, MLIS, MALA, is a first-year doctoral student in Information Studies with the University of Maryland’s iSchool. She previously earned her MLIS from UMD’s iSchool and her MA from St. John’s College in Annapolis. Ms. Douglass’ research applies an historical and philosophical lense to studying the impact of information literacy on an engaged democracy. She has taught composition and literature as well as information literacy to college freshmen, and designed a full-credit information literacy course following the University of Maryland’s ‘Scholarship in Practice’ curriculum requirements, and actively participates in the iSchool’s student group, iDiversity. 

Ursula Gorham, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Ursula Gorham, Ph.D., J.D. is a Lecturer in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is admitted to practice law in Maryland and previously served as a law clerk in state appellate and federal bankruptcy courts. Her research spans the role of libraries in public policy and political processes; access to legal information and court documents; and, collaborative efforts among libraries, community organizations, and government agencies to meet the information needs of underserved populations. In addition, she currently serves as an Associate Editor of Library Quarterly.

Renee F. Hill, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies
Dr. Renee F. Hill is Senior Lecturer and Director of the School Library program at University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. In this capacity, she teaches courses and provides guidance that prepare graduate students to become librarians in K-12 school settings. Renee earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education at Florida Atlantic University. Both her Master’s and Ph.D. were earned in Library and Information Studies at Florida State University. Renee is passionate about and committed to researching and teaching about issues that involve examining methods for increasing understanding of diversity issues in Library and Information Studies. Her research focuses on examining information needs and information access as they relate to diverse populations (e.g., members of various racial/ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities).
Kelly M. Hoffman, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Kelly M. Hoffman is a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park’s College of Information Studies, where she is a graduate research assistant for the ConnectedLib project. Her research interests include media literacy, games as discourse, and political information sharing. She has served as coordinator for the Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library and Information Science and for the UMD Disability Summit. Before entering the doctoral program, she earned a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and worked as a systems librarian and knowledge manager. She has also served as a Social Media Manager for the non-profit Random Acts.

Paul T. Jaeger, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Paul T. Jaeger, Ph.D., J.D., is Professor, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, and Director of the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program of the College of Information Studies and Co-Director of the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland. His teaching and research focus on the ways in which law and public policy shape information behavior, with a specific focus on issues of human rights and social justice. He is the author of more than one hundred and seventy journal articles and book chapters, as well as more than a dozen books. His research has been funded by the Institute of Museum & Library Services, the National Science Foundation, the American Library Association, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. Dr. Jaeger is Editor of Library Quarterly, Editor of Advances in Librarianship, and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion. He is founder and chair of the Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library and Information Science (CIDLIS), and co-founder and co-chair of the UMD Disability Summit. In 2014, he received the Library Journal/ALISE Excellence in Education Award, the international educator of the year award for the field of library and information science.

Gagan Jindal, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Gagan Jindal, MPH is a Doctoral Student in the College of Information at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA. She holds a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global and Community Health from the George Mason University, Fairfax Virginia. Her research interests include the online information seeking behaviors of patients managing chronic diseases, consumer health informatics, and user research with patients. Prior to joining the iSchool, Gagan worked as a Research Analyst in the health informatics division at NORC at the University of Chicago in Bethesda, Maryland and as a Program Associate for a mobile health start-up, Vibrent Health, in Fairfax, Virginia.

 

Beth St. Jean, The University of Maryland, College of Information Studies

Beth St. Jean, MLS, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the College of Information Studies (https://ischool.umd.edu/), the Assistant Director of the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) (http://ipac.umd.edu/), and an affiliate faculty member of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy (http://sph.umd.edu/center/hchl), all at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA (https://www.umd.edu/). She holds an MLS and a PhD in Information from the University of Michigan School of Information (https://www.si.umich.edu/). Beth's research aims to improve people's long-term health outlooks by exploring the important interrelationships between their health-related information behaviors, their health literacy, their health-related self-efficacy, and their health behaviors. She has worked with both adults and children, most recently co-developing the NLM-funded HackHealth after-school program (http://hackhealth.umd.edu/) to help increase disadvantaged middle school students’ health-related self-efficacy and improve their digital health literacy skills.

Published
2017-10-01
How to Cite
Douglass, C. L., Gorham, U., Hill, R. F., Hoffman, K. M., Jaeger, P. T., Jindal, G., & St. Jean, B. (2017). Information access and information literacy under siege: The potentially devastating effects of the proposed 2017 White House budget on already-marginalized populations in the United States. First Monday, 22(10). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i10.8088