ALA receives an IMLS National Leadership Grant to study digital services and resources in public libraries

For Immediate Release
Tue, 10/16/2012

Contact:

Norman Rose
Program Officer
Office for Research and Statistics (ORS)
800-545-2433 ext. 4283
nrose@ala.org

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) today announced it has received a three-year, National Leadership Grant award of $486,587.00 from the Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS).

ALA Office for Research & Statistics (ORS) Director Kathy Rosa will serve as project director, and John Bertot, co-director of the University of Maryland Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC), will manage the survey for the study of Public Libraries as Providers of Digitally Inclusive Services and Resources: A National Survey Redefined. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA), another partner on the grant, will provide input regarding issues of digital inclusion at the local government and community levels.

“Recent technological, economic and policy changes have thrust the digital literacy and digital inclusion roles of public libraries to the forefront of service,” said ALA ORS Director Kathy Rosa. “We are pleased to continue working with the University of Maryland Information Policy & Access Center to gather the information we need to advocate for and adapt to the digital inclusion needs of our communities.”

The study builds on the success of the long-running Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study (PLFTAS), which measured public access to computers, the Internet and Internet-related services in U.S. public libraries, as well as the impact of library funding changes on connectivity, technology deployment and sustainability. The new study will use qualitative and quantitative methods to focus on digital literacy and digital inclusion.

“Previous surveys conducted by ALA and UMCP have chronicled the growth of public access technology services and infrastructure in public libraries,” stated John Bertot. “By focusing on the role of public access technologies and services public libraries provide, this study will demonstrate the important roles of public libraries in building digitally inclusive communities.”

The Public Libraries as Providers of Digitally Inclusive Services and Resources: A National Survey study will take the pulse of public library service in the areas of digital literacy, economic and workforce development, educational support, and health information. Through this research and with the participation of U.S. public libraries, we will have the data we need to advocate for and adapt to the digital inclusion needs of our communities.

"At ICMA we see libraries as playing an essential role in helping local government meet their greatest challenges,” said Ron Carlee. “Partnering with ALA and the University of Maryland on this project will help bring greater understanding and awareness on the role of libraries on the critical issue of digital inclusion.”

About the University of Maryland Information Policy & Access Center
The Information Policy & Access Center is a response to the pressing need for research on the processes, practices, policies, and social issues that govern access to information in our increasingly digital information society. IPAC is committed to studying what policies and/or technologies lead to equitable and inclusive information access, a digitally-literate population, an informed and engaged public, or access to Internet-enabled resources and technologies, among key examples.

About the International City/County Management Association
ICMA is the premier organization of professional local government leaders building sustainable communities to improve lives worldwide.  ICMA provides member support; publications; data and information; peer and results-oriented assistance; and training and professional development to nearly 9,000 city, town, and county experts and other individuals and organizations throughout the world.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Through grant making, policy development, and research, IMLS helps communities and individuals thrive through broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning.

About the Office for Research & Statistics
The Office for Research and Statistics provides leadership and expert advice to ALA staff, members, and public on all matters related to research and statistics about libraries and librarians; represents the Association to federal agencies on these issues; and initiates projects needed to expand the knowledge base of the field through research and the collection of useful statistics.

For more information on the study, contact the ALA Office for Research & Statistics.