Interactive Public Library Digital Inclusion Map Launched

Friday, September 13, 2013

Since 1994, the Public Libraries and the Internet and Public Library Funding & Technology Access national surveys charted the progress of public library use of and interaction with the Internet. Findings have included longitudinal data on the numbers of public access computers; availability and speed rates of broadband connectivity, including wireless access; instructional classes on computer and Internet use; availability of online resources; challenges to providing services; and library-provided assistance with E-government transactions, job seeking, and learning at public libraries.

But the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and accompanying services and technologies now makes equitable access to and participation in the online environment essential for success in education, employment, finance, health and wellness, civic engagement, and more. This study focuses on the roles of public libraries in building digitally inclusive communities. Digital inclusion brings together high-speed Internet access, information and communication technologies, and digital literacy in ways that provide opportunities for individuals and communities to succeed in the digital environment.

Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and conducted by the American Library Association (ALA), the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland, and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), 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).
  • Domains-specific services and programs (civic engagement, education, health and wellness, and workforce/employment).

Equipped with a better understanding of the information access solutions provided at public libraries, the Digital Inclusion study  seeks to address how these services resonate within the context of their surrounding communities.

To do this,we developed an interactive map that blends public library public access technology services and community data. Explore, and let us know what you think. Thanks to Community Attributes for their work on this!