Findings

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The data from the 2007 study reveals several significant findings for the U.S. public library community. For charts and summaries of each finding use the topic links below.

Public Libraries continue to provide important services to their communities. In fact, 73% of public library outlets who responded to the survey stated that their facility was the only provider of free public Internet access.

Figure 1: Public Library Internet Connectivity 1996 - 2007

Almost 100% of public library outlets in the United States are connected to the Internet. This compares to only 44.6% of public library systems reported being connected to the Internet 10 years ago.

Figure 2: Public Access to Public Library Internet Connectivity 1998-2007

Similar to the chart illustrating Internet connectivity, nearly all public libraries that are connected to the Internet offer public access. The percentage remains essentially unchanged since 2004, indicating a plateau in public access. Slight differences between years since 2004 are within the margin of error and can be attributed to participation rates as opposed to any valid difference in public access Internet availability.

Figure 3: Average Number of Public Access Internet Workstations 1997-2007

The average number of public access Internet workstations in each public library outlet is another category that has reached a plateau with 10.7. This number is essentially unchanged since 2002. Nevertheless, there has been an almost 50% increase in the average number of workstations in each library outlet since 1997.

Figure 4: Public Library Outlet Maximum Speed of Public Access Internet

In 2007, the largest percentage of connected public library branches have connection speeds between 769 kbps and 1.5 mbps (32.9%) which is comparable to the 34.4% reported in 2006.

There was a slight increase over 2006 in the number of public library branches with connection speeds greater than 1.5 mbps.

However, it should be noted that 12.9% of public library branches reported not knowing the speed of connection available at their outlets, which affects the data for each additional category. The survey team has updated the bandwidth questions for the Fall 2007 survey in an attempt to reduce the number of those outlets not knowing this information.

Figure 5: Public Library Outlet Public Access Workstation

The 2007 survey findings indicate an increase of 12.4% of public library branches which have no plans to add workstations (57.8% versus 45.4% in 2006).

An additional large increase over 2006 is in the category of replacing workstations; 27.2% of public library branches had no replacement plans in 2006, whereas 46.3% of branches reported having no plans to replace workstations in 2007.

Figure 6: Public Library Outlet Wireless Internet Connectivity Availability

Since 2004, there has been a sharp increase in the number of public library outlets offering wireless access to patrons; 17.9% offered wireless access in 2004, 26.4% in 2006, and 54.2% in 2007.

In addition, 17.9% of libraries without wireless access in 2007 indicated there were plans to make it available within the next year.

Figure 7: Public Library Outlet Public Access Internet Connection Adequacy

In 2006, 45.5% of public branches indicated that their connection speeds were inadequate to meet user demands either some of the time (29.4%) or all of the time (16.1%).

The 2007 survey data reveal that there is a decrease of 9.9% in public library branches being able to meet patron connection speeds all of the time, yet an increase of 5% in the number of branches who find their connection speeds are sufficient to meet patron needs some of the time.

Additional findings, implications, and data from the study are available in the final reports.