Internet Use/Public Library Use Study Released

The Urban Libraries Council, together with the School
of Information Studies
at SUNY at Buffalo (Got my MLS there), has released
the results of a 3000+ household national
telephone survey of Internet use and public library use.
Highlights, a
research report, and the questionnaire are available on
the ULC
website

The good news is we found some
astoundingly positive numbers. Forty percent
of the respondents indicate they use both the Internet
and the library.
Even better, three out of four Internet users tell us they
have used the
library in the past year. Sixty percent of the library users
are also
Internet users.


In the face of the proliferation of services and resources
available on the
Internet appearing to be in direct competition with
libraries, we undertook
this study believing that the future of the public library
lies with the
consumer market, hence the telephone survey of
consumers. We need to \"see
ourselves as others see us\" to understand where the
choices are as we
envision the future.


The good news is we found some astoundingly
positive numbers. Forty percent
of the respondents indicate they use both the Internet
and the library.
Even better, three out of four Internet users tell us they
have used the
library in the past year. Sixty percent of the library users
are also
Internet users. That\'s all good.


There are places to pay attention carefully. Younger
people (18-35) were
more likely to use the Internet, but not the library. When
asked about
service characteristics they value, people who use both
ranked the library
higher than the Internet on cost, getting a paper copy,
trusting the
information to be accurate, protecting their privacy,
helpful assistance,
and being easy to use. The Internet outranked the
library on not taking
much time to get here, expectation of finding what is
being sought,
information being up to date, enjoyability of browsing,
always being open,
and several others.


One significant finding for all public libraries...while
almost 100% of
public libraries report having public Internet access
capacity, 41% of our
survey respondents report not having access to the
Internet. Clearly many
people still do not know they have access at the library.


Also in the report are data about why people use the
library in terms of the
PLA roles, why they don\'t, why they don\'t use available
Internet access, why
access may not be available, and a host of other
interesting things.


This research was funded by a grant from the Institute
of Museum and Library
Services. Dr. George D\'Elia of Suny-Buffalo and Joey
Rodger of ULC were
co-principal investigators.

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