New Report: "Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2010-2011"
The overview and links to the complete report are below.
We e want to call your attention to a few useful resources that might be useful but could be overlooked.
1. Statistical Summaries For All 50 States and the District of Columbia are Available
2. Maps (Web Only)
- E-Books map: 67 percent of public libraries report offering free access to e-books to library patrons; view the map to see how your state stacks up.
- E-Government map: 81 percent of public libraries provide assistance to patrons applying for and access e-government services; view the map to see how your state stacks up.
- Homework resources map: 87 percent of public libraries offer free homework resources to library patrons; view the map to see how your state stacks up.
- Job resources map: 91 percent of public libraries provide access to job databases and other job opportunity resources; view the map to see how your state stacks up.
- Training resources map: 87 percent of public libraries provide formal or informal technology training to library patrons; view the map to see how your state stacks up.
- Wi-fi availability map: 86 percent of public libraries now offer this service, and some states (and the District of Columbia) report universal WiFi access in their public libraries. View the map to see how your state stacks up.
3. Easy Access
- Two Page PDF Listing Key Findings
- A Key Findings Slide Show
- Easy Access to The Art Work Used in the Slide Show
- Access All of These Items Here
The Report Itself
A new national report shows that U.S. public libraries continue to expand as technology centers for communities, providing essential resources for job-seekers and support for critical e-government services. In addition, as the demand for e-books increases, libraries are the starting place for free downloads. However, budget cuts have forced libraries across the country to scale back drastically on operating hours and access to services, just when resources are most needed.
The 2011 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study reports that virtually all public libraries (99 percent) provide public access to computers and the Internet. More than 87 percent of libraries provide technology training, and more than two-thirds (67 percent) of libraries offer access to e-books, up 12 percent from two years ago.
Yet a pervasive “new normal” of increased demand for library technology resources, paired with decreased funding at state and local levels, is impacting service to millions of Americans, according to the report released today by the American Library Association (ALA).
“We’ve seen our libraries and communities struggle throughout this uneven economic recovery. Since the recession began, libraries have grappled with budget cuts and decreased hours, while users wait in lines before doors open, eager to use library computers or access Wi-Fi, get expert assistance for job search, and learn how to download e-books,” said ALA President Roberta Stevens. “We want patrons —and policymakers— to understand the dynamic resources available at today’s library and keep those resources funded. Let’s make sure that our investment in libraries yields its full potential.”
The proliferation of e-books marks a milestone in public libraries; the number of libraries that offer e-books has increased almost 30 percent since 2007.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in people coming to the library with their e-readers, eager to learn how to use it with the library e-book collection. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our expansion into digital services. As a technology hub for our 26 communities, we make sure to feature a wide range of resources for users,” said Contra Costa County Library (Calif.) Deputy County Librarian, Cathy Sanford.
“Millions of Americans each year go to their public libraries to seek educational resources, government services, employment information, and opportunities to improve their lives,” said Jill Nishi, deputy director of U.S. Libraries and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “As libraries struggle to meet the growing needs of their communities, against the pressure of significant financial constraints, it is crucial that both public and private partners consider how they can help libraries sustain the critical services they offer.”
Conducted by the ALA and the Information Policy & Access Center at the University of Maryland, this year’s study builds on the largest study of Internet connectivity in public libraries that began in 1994. The study functions as an annual “state of the library” report on the technology resources brokered by our libraries and the funding that enables free public access to these resources.
The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the ALA, can be found online at www.ala.org/plinternetfunding.
Full Text Report Resources:
- American Libraries Digital Supplement Summer 2011
- Executive Summary (PDF)
- Library Funding Landscape (PDF)
- Library Technology Landscape (PDF)
- State Summaries (PDF)
- Reports from the Field (PDF)
- Appendix A: 2010-2011 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Survey Questionnaire
- Appendix B: Interview Questions
- Appendix C: California public library interview participants
- Appendix D: Oklahoma public library interview participants
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.