iPAC Publishes 2013 Digital Inclusion Survey Results

Friday, July 25, 2014

The ubiquity of the Internet poses challenges and opportunities for individuals and communities alike. These challenges and opportunities, however, are not evenly distributed across or within individuals and communities. Equitable access to and participation in the online environment is essential for success in education, employment, finance, health and wellness, civic engagement, and a democratic society. And yet, communities and individuals find themselves at differing levels of readiness in their ability to access and use the Internet, robust and scalable broadband, a range of digital technologies, and digital content. The Digital Inclusion Survey addresses the efforts of a particular set of community-based institutions – public libraries – to address disparities and provide opportunity to individuals and communities by providing free access to broadband, public access technologies, digital content, digital literacy learning opportunities, and a range of programming that helps build digitally inclusive communities.

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 conducted 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).

Based on a national survey conducted in Fall 2013, our analysis provides insights into how public libraries help build digitally inclusive communities. In particular, we offer multiple products, including:

  • Interactive mapping tools that combine digital inclusion survey and community-level data. The map enables libraries to better understand their community demographics, education and learning, economic/workforce, and health contexts along with the digital inclusion services that they provide. We have also developed a state view of the interactive mapping tool found on the individual state pages.
  • 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.

These reports and other survey-based products are based on data collected from public libraries between September and November 2013. It may well be the case that libraries have added capacity (e.g., public access computers, more broadband, space) and services/programs (e.g., health information, engagement, training classes) since then.

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