From Librarian to Internet Pioneer

February 22, 2022
Jean Armour Polly

Today's library patrons may expect to be able to access the internet from comupters at their local library. 2019 Internet Hall of Fame inductee, Jean Armour Polly, faced a lot of professional pushback when in the 1980s she first introducted the idea of transforming public library service and redefining the role of the librarian as a digital educator and Internet advocate.

Jean Armour Polly was among the first librarians in the country to facilitate patrons’ Internet access after she convinced the Liverpool, New York, public library to buy an Apple desktop for public use in 1981. 

In a video interview, Polly said that initially, many of her peers were very resistant to the idea of libraries expanding their media offerings to include internet access. 

“In library-land, it really was not popular, the idea of putting the internet out there for the public, because it was not going to be mediated information,” she said. “It was not going to be librarians being the gatekeepers of knowledge and wisdom anymore. Now people could get at this information themselves and create their own resources.”