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ALA Study on Internet Use

It’s a 227 page PDF but well worth reading. This is the kind of data that provides insights into our challenges.
Executive Brief
The State of Technology and Funding in U.S. Public Libraries in 2007

Libraries have always been about the business of connecting communities of people with the
information they want and need in order to learn, explore, create and build success. Computers
and the Internet have been a growing part of fulfilling this mission over the past dozen years.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Library Association (ALA),
the accompanying comprehensive Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study is part of
a sustained effort to provide current information that describes access to computers and the
Internet in U.S. public libraries.
The study presents national and state data gathered through three integrated approaches: a
national survey that collected information about public library Internet connectivity, use,
services, funding and sustainability issues (see page 28); a questionnaire sent to the Chief
Officers of State Library Agencies (see page 124); and focus groups and site visits held in four
states: Delaware, Maryland, Nevada and Utah (see page 144).
Three significant themes emerged from the study research:
• Technology is bringing more – not less – public library use
Providing education resources and services for job seekers are the Internet services most
critical to the role of public libraries (see figure 24). Seventy-three percent of libraries report
they are the only source of free public access to computers and the Internet in their
communities (see Figure 31).
• Library infrastructure (space, bandwidth and staffing) is being pushed to capacity
An increased number of visitors to libraries coupled with increasingly complex technology
products and services challenge libraries with facilities that were built before the advent of
networked services and budgets and staff sizes that have not grown even with the addition of
new services (see Figures 13, 14 and Section Three).
Libraries need more technology planning and dedicated technology support
Providing technology access does not represent a one-time investment of funds or staff
training. More than a quarter of libraries do not have upgrade or replacement schedules for
their computers (see Figure 12), and state libraries identified an inability to plan and budget
for IT upgrades, replacement and maintenance as a significant challenge for public libraries
with vulnerable technology services.
This report – along with more than a decade of research from the Public Libraries and the
Internet studies ( – demonstrates that libraries have moved rapidly into
Internet-based services that their communities want and need. Ongoing attention and investments must be made to ensure that these essential services provided by libraries are sustained.

Posted on: September 13, 2007, 2:52 pm Category: Uncategorized

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