Online job-seeking focus of new issues brief

Contact: Larra Clark
Project Manager, ORS

For Immediate Release
February 3, 2009

CHICAGO – In the second of a series of reports related to technology access in U.S. public libraries, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Research & Statistics (ORS) is drawing attention to the increasingly important role public libraries are playing in supporting job seekers. The issues brief draws from national data published in the Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study (

“Job-seeking in U.S. Public Libraries” discusses the range of library resources available to job seekers and challenges to maintaining these services. Library staff and users in site visits in nine states report increased use of library computers for job-seeking and e-government services. Nearly 73 percent of libraries are their communities’ only source of free computer and Internet access.

“More and more employers – from grocery stores to casinos to state governments – are requiring people to apply for jobs online,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “Americans are depending on libraries not only for free access to hardware and software, but also for the assistance and training library staff offer every day. Nearly three-quarters of public libraries report offering information technology training for library patrons.”

One Indiana library director put it this way: “People come in every day to apply for unemployment. They could also go to the unemployment office, but the lines are long there, and
there is no one to help them navigate.”

Library staffs are encouraged to use these briefing papers as educational tools with community stakeholders, including elected officials, funders and program partners, as needed, to raise awareness of the specific – and sometimes unique – concerns of libraries around technology deployment. Staff may also use this format as a template for providing local data and examples related to a given topic.

The briefing reports are not intended to be comprehensive, but rather to share key findings from the largest and longest-running study of Internet connectivity in libraries.  The Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and ALA, continues work begun in 1994 by John Carlo Bertot and Charles R. McClure. The study assesses 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.

For more information on the study and to download a copy of the job-seeking report, please visit The research team also invites feedback about future topics and additional tools that would be useful in raising awareness around library technology needs. Please write Larra Clark at