Digital Inclusion Survey

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Digital Inclusion Speed Test

Broadband speeds in U.S. public libraries have improved significantly in recent years yet continues to lag behind national broadband connectivity standards, according to “Broadband Quality in Public Libraries,” a new supplementary report (.pdf) released jointly on April 14, 2015 by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland College Park as part of the Digital Inclusion Survey.

The study examined the quality of broadband access in more than 2,200 public libraries by collecting data on upload and download speeds in 49 states.

Libraries reported progress in their public Internet speeds—nearly half of all libraries report subscribed Internet download speeds as being greater than 10 Mbps in 2013, compared with only 18 percent of libraries four years earlier. New speed test data collected from July-August 2014 found median download speeds of 30 Mbps for wired and 13 Mbps for Wi-Fi connections in city libraries to rural libraries clocking download speeds of 9 Mbps and 6 Mbps, respectively.

Other highlights include:

  • Captured speed delivered to individual users’ devices is significantly less than the subscribed network speed;
  • In most cases, quality of service degrades at peak use times, sometimes dramatically – for example, direct connection download speeds in city libraries are 69% lower during heavy usage vs light usage periods.

For more information:

Broadband Quality in Public Libraries: press release

Broadband Quality in Public Libraries: study highlights

Broadband Quality in Public Libraries: full speed test report

Digital Inclusion Survey Report

How are libraries equipping U.S. communities with the resources and skills needed to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – global marketplace? Read the results of the Digital Inclusion Survey, taken from a nationally representative sample of public libraries at the branch/outlet level between September 3 and November 30, 2013.

NEW: The Digital Inclusion Survey report.

“Until the Digital Inclusion Survey, no national study has shown in such detail the extent to which libraries complete education, jumpstart employment and entrepreneurship, and foster individual empowerment and engagement, or the E’s of Libraries™,” said ALA President Courtney Young.

Based on a national survey conducted in Fall 2013, the analysis provides insights into how public libraries help build digitally inclusive communities. Tools located at http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu/ include:

  • Interactive mapping tools that combine digital inclusion survey and community-level data, to enable libraries to better understand their community demographics, education and learning, economic/workforce and health contexts along with the digital inclusion services that they provide.
  • State pages that provide an interactive state-level mapping tool and selected summary data that compares states to national data.
  • Issue briefs on key topics such as broadband, employment, e-government, community access, digital literacy and digital inclusion.
  • National report that analyzes data from the survey.
  • Executive summary that provides an overview of survey findings.

New: infographic

About the Digital Inclusion Study

Documenting the impact of libraries in the Digital Age is more important than ever as government officials make difficult decisions with increasingly tightened public funds. Studies show that libraries are vital digital hubs that provide access to public access technologies and digital content, and that millions of people use those technologies for education, employment, civic engagement and health purposes and to enhance their digital literacy skills. In doing so, public libraries are essential to the building of digitally inclusive communities.

The Digital Inclusion Survey is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and conducted by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy & Access Center at the University of Maryland. The International City/County Management Association and the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy serve as partners on the grant. This study conducts a national survey of public libraries that explores the digital inclusion roles of public libraries in four key areas:

  • Public access technology infrastructure resources and capacity (e.g., public access workstations; broadband connectivity).
  • Digital content, services, and accessibility.
  • Digital literacy (including languages in which instruction is offered).
  • Domain-specific services and programs (civic engagement, education, health and wellness, and workforce/employment).

The survey provides national and state estimates, but more importantly, interactively shows public libraries in context with community-level data (e.g. levels of poverty, unemployment rates, graduation 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.

More information regarding the study and survey, including examples of data use, interactive data tools, issue briefs regarding public libraries and aspects of digital inclusion, is available at http://digitalinclusion.umd.edu.

 

Funded By

For additional information on the Digital Inclusion Survey, please contact the Office for Research & Statistics.