Information Institute at Florida State University to Study Status and Impact of Public Access Computers in Public Libraries

Survey funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Library Association

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $303,893 grant to the Information Use Management and Policy Institute of the School of Information Studies at Florida State University. The award will support two national surveys in 2004 and 2006 to study the status of public libraries in their use of technology, their roles in providing network-based services and resources, and the ability of public libraries to impact their communities through technology and network-based services and resources. The American Library Association's Washington Office is also supporting the study.

Nearly every public library in the nation provides free access to computers and the Internet. People with lower income and education levels often rely on libraries as their only access point to computers and the Internet.

"These surveys will help public libraries better understand their role in the provision of network-based services and resources, and the impacts such services and resources have on the communities that the libraries serve," said John Carlo Bertot, Professor and Associate Director of the Institute.

The survey data also will give national and state policy makers, library advocates, practitioners, researchers, government and private funding organizations and other stakeholders a better understanding of the issues and needs of libraries associated with providing Internet-based services and resources.

Bertot, Charles R. McClure, Francis Eppes Professor and Director of the Institute, and Paul T. Jaeger, Manager for Research Development at the Institute are Co-Principal Investigators on the project. Bertot and McClure have conducted similar studies on approximately a biennial basis since 1994.

Results from these previous studies have been used by researchers, practitioners, members of Congress, the American Library Association, the Public Library Association, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. The findings from previous studies have been cited in the Supreme Court decision regarding the Children's Internet Protection Act, Congressional testimony on a variety of issues, court testimony, and the Statistical Abstracts of the U.S. published by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made access to the Internet for all people through libraries a primary focus of its activities. Nationally, the foundation's U.S. Library Program has committed $250 million to install more than 47,000 computers in almost 11,000 libraries in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The foundation also supports no-cost access to technology internationally.

The mission of the Information Institute ( is to develop and implement applied reearch and policy studies that improve the quality, effectiveness and productivity of individuals and organizations' use and management of information resources and services. The Institute is especially interested in the social and behavioral aspects of the use and management of information and information technology.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ( works to promote greater equity in four areas: global health, education, public libraries, and support for at-risk families in Washington State and Oregon. The Seattle-based foundation joins local, national, and international partners to ensure that advances in these areas reach those who need them most. The foundation is led by Bill Gates' father, William H. Gates, Sr., and Patty Stonesifer.

The American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) (est. 1995) ( promotes the development and use of electronic access to information as a means to ensure the public's right to a free and open information society. OITP's primary activities include research & analysis, education, government representation, and strategic outlook activities.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
American Library Association, Washington Office