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by John Carlo Bertot, Charles R. McClure, Carla B. Wright, Elise Jensen, and Susan Thomas
for The American Library Association and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This report presents findings from the 2007-2008 National Survey of Public Library Computer and Internet Access survey administered in the fall of 2007 to public libraries across the United States.

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by Charles R. McClure, Paul T. Jaeger, and John Carlo Bertot
First Monday – 3 December 2007

While virtually all public libraries provide free Internet access to patrons, libraries seem to be reaching a plateau in their ability to meet demands for Internet access.

Based on the findings of Public Libraries and the Internet surveys, the average number of public access workstations and the average connection speeds of Internet access in public libraries have stayed the same or slightly decreased in recent years. Further, more than half of libraries do not have sufficient connection speeds to meet patron demand, while staff, space, cost, and technical/telecommunications infrastructure issues prevent a great number of libraries from increasing the number of workstations or the connection speed in the library. Moreover, the U.S. federal telecommunications and broadband policies require revision and updating.

 These findings raise serious questions about the ability of public libraries to continue to meet patron needs for Internet access. As a result of early public library commitment to ensuring public Internet access, patrons rely heavily on public libraries to meet their Internet needs. However, as demands for library computers and connection speeds continue to grow, there may be a drop in the quality of Internet services that public libraries are able to provide their patrons. It would also challenge the fundamental role of the contemporary public library in the community, as libraries have become so inextricably linked to the provision of Internet access. In addition, the survey data identify a range of implications regarding the policy environment in which public libraries offer their public access Internet services.

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by John Carlo Bertot, Paul T. Jaeger, Lesley A. Langa and Charles R. McClure
First Monday – 4 September 2007

 This article presents findings from the 2006 Public Libraries and the Internet study and other research that demonstrate the impact of public Internet access in public libraries on the communities and individuals that the libraries serve. This article focuses on the importance of public library Internet access in times of emergencies and for a range of electronic government (e–government) services at the individual and community–wide levels. Public access computing and Internet access in public libraries function as a first choice, first refuge, and last resort in a range of emergency and e–government circumstances, allowing individuals to engage successfully in essential e–government services such as registering for Medicare or other benefits and filing tax information. With this key centrality as agents of government services, public libraries increasingly play significant roles in times of emergencies, like the aftermath of a hurricane, in which communities rely on the public library Internet access to request aid, try to find missing family and friends, file Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and insurance claims, and begin rebuilding their lives. This article also discusses the need to revise government policy related to the role of public libraries in their support of e–government as public libraries increasingly serve as agents of e–government.

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by Matthew Lasar
Ars Technica – 29 July 2009

Looks like urban libraries are getting a bum deal when it comes to applying for broadband infrastructure stimulus grants. The American Library Association wants this fixed.

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