Public libraries can log on starting Sept. 3, 2013
CHICAGO — Starting this September, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Research & Statistics and the University of Maryland Information Policy & Access Center will begin capturing information about the vital roles public libraries play in supporting digital inclusion.
The Digital Inclusion Survey will take the pulse of public library service in the areas of digital literacy, economic and workforce development, civic engagement, educational support, health information and public access to the internet.
“Documenting the impact of libraries in the Digital Age is more important than ever as government officials make difficult funding decisions with increasingly tightened public funds,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “I believe we all will be better equipped to make the case for libraries with data from this vital new study.”
Funded by a three-year, National Leadership Grant award from the Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the study builds on the long-running Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, which provided a “state of the library” report on the technology resources brokered by libraries and the funding that enables free public access to these resources. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) serve as partners on the grant.
“The results from the Digital Inclusion Survey are critical to understanding trends in both public access technology and the services provided by public libraries. Guessing at whether your library is keeping pace isn’t good enough – you need to know if you are,” said Denise Davis, deputy director, Sacramento Public Library. “And, you need to be able to tell the story of how the investment is making a difference in your community. This is the only national-level research that will help you paint that picture.
The survey will provide national and state estimates, but more importantly, will interactively show public libraries in context with community-level data (e.g., graduation and unemployment rates). Survey participants will be able to identify community impacts of library public computer and Internet access; identify gaps in technology services based on community needs and demographics; and demonstrate library contributions to community digital inclusion efforts.
Examples of how survey data can be used, as well as other information about the study, can be found at http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu/. The survey goes live Sept. 3, 2013.