As of 12/31/08, the following services provided by Prairienet will be discontinued:
- Mailing lists (listservs)
- Modem dialup service (dialup Internet access)
Organizational Web hosting (a.k.a. Information Provider) accounts, which provide space and support for organizational websites, will continue but will no longer offer email services. More information is available on the Prairienet site.
Prairienet was founded in 1993 by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) as a community information network for Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding East-Central Illinois region. Its services reflected the following mission:
- To strengthen community organizations by helping them provide and retrieve networked information.
- To empower individuals by providing access to networked information and by teaching the skills necessary to access and use this information.
- To facilitate information and resource sharing in support of community development efforts.
- To promote equity of access to computer resources for everyone in the community.
The changes in Prairienet's services are a response to changes in the world since Prairienet was founded, including increased access to low-cost and free e-mail providers. The proliferation of spam'”which accounts for 99% of all email and grows in volume by 50% every year'”generates millions of pernicious messages each day. In order to operate efficiently in this environment, Prairienet would be required to implement cost-prohibitive spam filters. Likewise, the cost of offering dialup Internet access is no longer financially feasible.
GSLIS's Community Informatics Initiative or CII now is responsible for Prairienet and its original mission of strengthening communities through information access. Through funding from GSLIS, the Office of the Provost, and other sources, CII works with people to develop information and communication technologies to achieve their goals. Paul Adams will continue his long and valued tenure through CII as will Karen Fletcher until her retirement on January 1, 2009, after 14 years with Prairienet.
CII is working locally to expand Prairienet's good work in establishing direct partnerships and support for community organizations and efforts. Examples include the HelpSource consortium, partnerships with youth programs, the creation of community technology centers, and coursework through which students provide community-based support such as:
- Helping Cunningham Children's Home create a digital archive.
- Supporting the WILL Youth Media Workshop by performing program evaluation.
- Helping CII create a U of I website portal for the Latino community.
According to GSLIS Professor Ann Bishop, co-director of CII, "As we embark on a new era of serving communities through innovative technology systems and solutions, we look forward to retaining the Prairienet community as a valuable network of partners."