Date of Graduation

5-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Journalism

Advisor

Larry D. Foley

Committee Member

Jee Young Chung

Second Committee Member

Tiffany King

Keywords

Arkansas, COVID-19, Dialogic theory, infrastructure, public libraries, Public Sphere theory

Abstract

Public libraries in Arkansas are welcome, but those found in rural Arkansas are almost a necessity. The public uses the library for more than just checking out books or their email: it’s become a community gathering place for all walks of life, regardless of age or economic status. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the state, libraries also became essential for education, medicine, news, and employment, nearly overloading their resources and shining a spotlight on technology, or the lack thereof, that so many public libraries are needing. With the Arkansas governor planning an upgrade on broadband technology and the federal government passing a bill to get services to more areas of the country, this thesis shows how and where those improvements would be best served and why they are needed as soon as possible.

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