Benton Foundation Cites Information Institute Work

A Benton Foundation newsletter recently highlighted the Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study, prepared by the Information Use Management & Policy Institute at Florida State University, along with the Center for Library & Information Innovation at the University of Maryland and the American Library Association Office for Research and Statistics.

The study examined the growing role that libraries play in providing communities of all sizes with free Internet access, training, and staff assistance in using this technology. Key findings indicate that libraries are often the only source of free access to computers and the Internet in their communities. During the recent economic downturn, library staff reported an increase in the use of library computers and Internet access for job-seeking and E-government (electronic government) purposes. Even with shrinking budgets, libraries are continuing to improve Internet access, but they still find that patron demands are growing faster than their ability to increase bandwidth. The challenge to libraries is to determine how to best meet this growing demand while facing a dismal funding outlook.