Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries

Abstract

Public libraries have provided free access to the Internet and computers since the 1990s. Libraries have also provided access to digital resources, databases, networked and virtual services, training, technical assistance, and technology-trained staff. However, little research has examined the relationship between free access to computers and outcomes that benefit individuals, families, and communities.

To better understand how the provision of free access to the Internet and computers in public libraries is impacting the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the United States, the Institute of Museum and Library Services issued a request for proposals for research targeted at documenting, describing and analyzing the use and results of this use in libraries throughout the nation.

This report outlines the first part of the research, describing the characteristics of people who use public access computers and Internet connections, the types of use they engage in, and the impact that use has on their own lives, that of their families and friends, and the communities they live in.

Recommended Citation

Becker, S., Crandall, M.D., Fisher, K.E., Kinney, B., Landry, C., & Rocha, A. (2010). Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries. (IMLS-2010-RES-01). Institute of Museum and Library Services. Washington, D.C.