The US Impact Public Library Study is a research project examining the impact of free access to computers and the Internet in public libraries. “Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at US Libraries” is the first research report of the project. It discusses the characteristics of the people who use computers and the Internet in libraries, the types of use they engage in, and the impact that their use has on their own lives, that of their families and friends, and their communities. The key findings of this first report include:
- Internet access is now one of the most sought after public library services, and it is used by nearly half of all vistors.
- People use library computers to perform both life-changing tasks (e.g., find work, apply to college, secure government benefits) and routine tasks (e.g., connect with family and friends, read the newspaper, plan family outings).
- People of all ages, income, races and levels of education go to the library for Internet access, whether they have a connection at home or not.
The second report will look at the effect of library characteristics and policies on public access computing use and impact. It is expected to be released in July 2010.