The data provided through this survey serve to inform a broad cross section of the library community and policy makers making decisions related to library funding and technology. In particular, the study:
- Provides specific data regarding public library Internet connectivity, bandwidth, the provision of technology training services and resources, and Internet service/resource funding sources, to name selected key topics;
- Enables librarians to compare their library to other similar libraries in their states and across the country;
- Enables the American Library Association, Public Library Association, and other advocacy organizations, to make the case for continued and enhanced support for public libraries and their provision of Internet-based services and resources to the communities that libraries serve;
- Helps policy makers and others understand the needs and issues that public libraries face when providing Internet-based services and resources; and
- Identifies sustainability and advocacy issues related to public library Internet connectivity, impacts and benefits of connectivity and public access computing to communities and individuals; and
- Provides ways to identify quality public access computing and Internet access.
Previous Study Usage
Over the years, data from these studies have informed the policy debates regarding the role that public libraries play as a public Internet access presence within the communities that libraries serve. Researchers, policy makers, advocacy groups, legal scholars, and others have used the findings from previous studies in a number of ways, including:
- The Supreme Court decision regarding the Children's Internet Protection Act (United States v. American Library Association, 123 S.Ct. 2297) ;
- Congressional testimony on a variety of issues related to the Internet and information access; and
- The Statistical Abstracts of the U.S. published by the U.S. Census Bureau (see Section 24, Information and Communications, Figure No. 1149).
Thus, the survey continues to be a significant source of information regarding the role of public libraries in a networked environment.