Magazine article American Libraries

Report: Public Libraries Thrive as Tech Hubs

Magazine article American Libraries

Report: Public Libraries Thrive as Tech Hubs

Article excerpt

A national report released September 26 reveals that 99% of all U.S. public libraries provide free public access to computers wired to the internet, compared to 25% 10 years ago. Librarians overwhelmingly (71%) report that the most important impact of this service is providing internet access to those who otherwise would not have it--the first time that impact has been quantified on a national scale.

The study, "Public Libraries and the Internet 2006," was conducted by Florida State University's Information Use Management and Policy Institute, spearheaded by FSU Professor John Bertot, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ALA.

The report reveals that despite increased demand for library computers, libraries typically have not seen a corresponding increase in budgets and many are challenged to provide enough computers or connection speeds fast enough to meet demand. Nearly half (45%) of U.S. public libraries report no increase or a drop in program funding for 2006. With inflation, increased personnel and benefits costs, and a greater demand for technology enhancements, the report notes that flat funding in many cases amounts to budget cuts that directly affect the quality of library services, including the number of hours a library is open. …

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