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Public Libraries and the Internet

Written on: March 30th, 2010 by: in Blog Posts

The recently-released report Opportunity for all: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries is the result of a collaboration between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Washington, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. It’s the first large-scale study of who uses the internet in libraries, and what they use it for- nearly 50,000 people were polled by phone, online, and by extended interview.
The report confirms “the unique role that public libraries play in the evolving digital landscape”, with key findings including:

  • 44% of people living below the poverty line use libraries for internet access
  • 60% of young adults living in households below the poverty line use library internet services to meet educational needs
  • Almost 55% of seniors living in poverty use library internet services to access health and wellness information
  • 25% of the nation’s 14-18 year olds use the internet at a library on a weekly basis- homework is one the most common reasons why they use it
  • “Social Connection” is the overall most common reason why people use the internet at a library
  • 25% of those accessing the internet at libraries had no other means of access- the 75% who did have access at home or at work used the internet at their library because of greater bandwidth availability, social context, and the availability of assistance from library staff, among other reasons.

    You can read the whole report here, or download from the link below:
    OPP4ALL Final Report

    Learn More about the study.
    Download the complete report.