UPDATE: Register for the upcoming May 18 webinar with the research team!
If you work in a library, you’ve experienced it first-hand: people need libraries for Internet access. And now there’s data to prove it! Last year we blogged about the WebJunction group: Does your PAC have IMPACT? and we’re thrilled to share news of their completed research.
The new report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. This powerful research was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older – roughly 77 million people – used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year.
Low-income adults are more likely to rely on the public library as their sole access to computers and the Internet than any other income group. Overall, 44 percent of people living below the federal poverty line used computers and the Internet at their public libraries.
Americans across all age groups reported they used library computers and Internet access. Teenagers are the most active users. Half of the nation’s 14- to 18-year-olds reported that they used a library computer during the past year, typically to do school homework.
The use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. In the last 12 months:
The report’s findings (over 200 pages worth!) are based on nearly 50,000 surveys – including 3,176 from a national telephone survey and 44,881 web survey responses – from patrons of more than 400 public libraries across the country.
And for those of you on the front line, you can stand behind those number to show that YES, your hard work supporting public access computing in libraries does have a *huge* impact!
TechSoup is a nonprofit that partners with corporations to distribute software and hardware donations to nonprofits and libraries. You may already know about their donation programs that can save your library approximately 90% on Microsoft products and Symantec’s Norton Antivirus donations but did you know they offer a typing program, discount on Flickr and more? Attend this free webinar, Wednesday, October 28, 11 a.m. Pacific time and learn about TechSoup for Libraries and how they can help you offer more to your patrons and staff and save money.
WebJunction member, Stephanie Gerding will interview Victoria Yarbrough, City Librarian at Douglas Public Library in Arizona, Todd Schlechte, Library Director at Gretna Public Library in Nebraska and Jennifer Doyon, Information Technology/Teen Librarian at the Brookfield Library in Connecticut, to learn about the donation they requested and how they’re using it.
This webinar is best suited for public libraries that are listed in the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) database or have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. For more information about TechSoup for Libraries, visit http://techsoupforlibraries.org.
UPDATE: View archive »
This is a press release from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)–with my boldface added:
WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced that it has awarded the first four grants under NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program to fund activities in California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Vermont. The program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will increase broadband access and adoption through better data collection and broadband planning. The data will be displayed in NTIA’s national broadband map, a tool that will inform policymakers’ efforts and provide consumers with improved information on the broadband Internet services available to them.
“Broadband will bring many benefits to the Nation, such as job creation and innovation, but these benefits have been delayed by the lack of comprehensive, reliable data on the availability of broadband service,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “This program addresses an important need and will provide a valuable tool in bringing broadband and jobs to more Americans.”
NTIA received applications representing all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia to participate in the program, meaning that all governments that were eligible to apply for grants did so, whether directly or through a designated entity. The agency is currently reviewing the remaining 52 applications and expects to continue announcing awards on a rolling basis throughout the fall.
A summary of the four awards announced today is as follows:
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is awarded approximately $1.8 million; the Indiana Office of Technology (IOT) is awarded approximately $1.3 million; the Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. (e-NC Authority) is awarded approximately $1.6 million; and the Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI) is awarded approximately $1.2 million to collect and verify the availability, speed, and location of broadband across the states of California, Indiana, North Carolina, and Vermont, respectively. This activity is to be conducted on a semi-annual basis between 2009 and 2011, with initial data coming available in November 2009 to inform broadband policy efforts. Awardees are to present the data in a clear and accessible format to the public, government, and the research community.
The CPUC is also awarded $500,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in California over four years, bringing its grant award total to approximately $2.3 million. In addition, the e-NC Authority is awarded approximately $435,000 for the cost of broadband planning activities in North Carolina over five years, bringing its grant award total to over $2 million.
“The four award recipients submitted well-formed proposals that are both fiscally prudent and serve as a model for others,” Strickling added. “We are committed to making the program succeed nationwide and will continue to provide guidance to applicants where necessary to help them improve their proposed projects.”
NTIA noted that the four award recipients submitted grant applications that met or exceeded program requirements in all areas. For example:
Data Collection: While all four recipients plan to collect data directly from broadband providers, each also described plans to collect or utilize data from other sources. Examples include wireless propagation models, speed tests, online and field surveys, and drive testing. Recipients also plan to use existing datasets that were developed for other purposes but are valuable for broadband mapping, including orthophotography, parcel maps, and E911 datasets.
Verification: The recipients will use multiple verification methods, and each also plans to use independent verifiers to conduct data verification work.
Collaboration: Recipients demonstrated that the relevant state agencies are committed to the success of the project and plan to be actively engaged in its leadership. Each recipient is collaborating with other state partners, resulting in plans that are unique to each state’s needs and capabilities. In addition, while current Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and/or broadband resources vary by state, recipients described how their projects will integrate and leverage existing capacity.
The State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program is a matching grant program that implements the joint purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA). The program will provide grants to assist states or their designees in gathering and verifying state-specific data on the availability, speed, location, and technology type of broadband services. The data they collect and compile will also be used to develop publicly available state-wide broadband maps and to inform the comprehensive, interactive, and searchable national broadband map that NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by February 17, 2011.
The national broadband map will publicly display the geographic areas where broadband service is available; the technology used to provide the service; the speeds of the service; and broadband service availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings. The national map will also be searchable by address and show the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding census block or street segment.
Awardees are required to contribute at least 20 percent non-federal matching funds toward project costs. In addition, while the BDIA mandates that each state may designate only one eligible entity to receive funds under the program, each state’s applicant will be carefully evaluated and must meet the standards described in NTIA’s Notice of Funds Availability for this program in order to receive funding.
U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on communications and information policy. For more information about the NTIA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov.
WebJunction is gearing up for an August focus on Technology Policies and we’d like to hear from you first. To understand how libraries develop, update and communicate technology policies we would like to invite you to complete a short survey. The short survey asks questions about:
We will share the results of the survey later in August and will address some of the key issues in an August 26 webinar. Thank you for taking the time to help share a current understanding of library technology policies!
If you’re not confused by all the acronyms flying around the federal stimulus package, then it’s a miracle! Everybody’s talking about what portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) should go to libraries, but there are certainly not enough folks who understand how to apply for the funds. Thankfully, ALA’s Know Your Stimulus site is helping libraries navigate through the minefield of red tape. I recommend registering for their upcoming ALA webinar on August 5: Nuts and Bolts – Broadband Grant Application Assistance. They’ll help distinguish the BTOP from the NTIA and the NOFA from the RUS (!) Honestly the only thing I feel fairly certain I understand is that there will be 3 rounds of funding and that the first deadline is August 15, so get crackin’!
Tell us what you’re learning about the Broadband Stimulus
With an unstable economy and rapidly changing technologies, planning for the future of your library’s technology is no easy feat. WebJunction understands these challenges and is focusing programming on Technology Planning this month with these free webinars:
Implementing an Online Helpdesk using Event Tracker: April 16, 3:00 PM Eastern
TechAtlas for Libraries is a set of free online tools to help libraries with the technology planning and the management of their computer inventory. Event Tracker is a tool within TechAtlas which allows users to create an online “help desk” so they can track all of the requests and solutions to computer troubles in the library. When a staff member reports the problem using the web-based form, TechAtlas notifies the designated technical support staff by e-mail. After the problem has been resolved, there is space in Event Tracker to include the solution. This creates a knowledge base that can be referred to later if the same problem occurs. It also helps you to stay on top of all the technology tasks that need to be completed in the library.
MaintainIT Cookbook Virtual Celebration: April 22, 2:00 PM Eastern
Come join a celebration of the thousands of librarians who made TechSoup’s, MaintainIT Project a successful reality — from the 400+ librarians and tech support personnel who spent their valuable time sharing stories, to the countless contributors and volunteers who used the content, contributed to the events, and created a community of librarians learning from each other. Please join this virtual event, where you’ll get the top technology tips from library technology experts, hear what MaintainIT Project staff learned from their many conversations and library travels around the country, and learn how you can keep the rich Cookbook content and community alive on WebJunction.
Technology Competencies in Your Library: April 29, 2:00 PM Eastern
Does your staff have the technology skills they need to do their jobs? How do you know? One way that libraries are looking to answer these questions is by establishing technology competencies. Competencies help to define the skills needed for general or specific job duties. At WebJunction this month, we’re highlighting our new technology competencies new technology competencies and offering a free webinar to discuss how libraries are using competencies with staff. Learn from presenters Lori Reed from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC); Phyllis Winfield and Kim Gales, Worthington Libraries (OH); and Kris Roseburg, St Johns County Public Library System (FL) as they share their strategies and experiences implementing competency programs. Bring your own experiences and questions about creating a competencies program at your library and we’ll also point you towards resources that can help make your program a success.
Along with rapidly changing technologies, the public’s increased use of library computers puts extra demands on the setup and maintenance of hardware, software, networks, and security. Part of technology planning is staying on top of those tasks. Help build a list of 101 tips for managing public access computers by submitting one tech success tip from your library. It takes just 5 minutes to share your favorite quick tip that will help others be more successful with technology in their library and you’ll receive 100 in return!
WebJunction is pleased to host the third cookbook from TechSoup’s MaintainIT Project: Planning for Success. This free online resource brings together the most current ideas and best practices for planning, building, and managing your library’s computer technology. Kudos are in order to the more than 200 librarians from around the country (check out the acknowledgment pages in the Cookbook’s downloadable version) who have contributed their experience and knowledge on over 50 topics ranging from security solutions and strategic maintenance practices to community building experiences involving Web 2.0 tools and vital partnerships.
The cookbook covers six sections and includes a related set of tools for each chapter (collected as the “toolkit” also available in downloadable version):
Please use the comments field available at the bottom of each cookbook article to add other links or suggestions for enhancing the cookbook. Your valued input will keep this outstanding resource up-to-date and relevant to maintaining technology all libraries. The Planning for Success Overview provides links to each article as well as the downloadable PDF versions of both the Cookbook and Toolkit.
Thank you again to all the MaintainIT contributors!
I can’t say that I have ever fully committed to a New Year’s resolution. I like the idea, but something about it doesn’t click with me. However, I do think that as a year comes to an end, people inevitably find themselves reflecting back on how the year went and what exciting or challenging things are to come. (A trip to Alaska to see friends and bears in Katmai National Park is my biggest plan for 2009 so far!)
The project that I work on at WebJunction is called TechAtlas for Libraries. These free, online tools can help libraries with their technology planning and management needs. Which got me thinking that writing a technology plan is a bit like writing resolutions for the new year. Sure, the technology plan is on a larger scale and much more formal, but the intent is the same – to make things better. Technology plans are filled with objectives, goals, budgets that are written down and all designed to improve services to patrons and staff.
We’re offering a free webinar on January 29th to introduce you to the TechAtlas planning tools and how these simple resources can help make the planning process easier. The tools can be especially helpful for libraries that need to write a technology plan for the E-rate program or any library that sees how valuable a technology plan can be. For more information on the session and to register, please visit the TechAtlas Webinars page.
Good luck with those resolutions!
Has anyone seen the celebratory cake and ice cream? Maybe my co-workers are hiding it from me…
TechAtlas (WebJunction’s free technology planning and management tool) hasn’t been on the scene for libraries as long as WebJunction, but we are definitely excited to be part of this five-year celebration. For the past few years, the team at TechAtlas has been working with libraries, spreading the word about our tools and listening to the feedback from our users to help improve what we offer.
A big part of this work includes offering webinars and trainings to provide quick demonstrations of TechAtlas tools and resources. And course, as part of the 5th year celebration, we have a list of our 5 most popular webinars. Here they are (in no particular order):
1) An Overview of TechAtlas
2) TechAtlas Inventory Tools
3) Using Event Tracker as a Help Desk tool
4) Technology Planning with TechAtlas
5) TechAtlas for Grant Applicants
You can catch one of these great webinars in just a few weeks. The “Using Event Tracker as a Help Desk tool” webinar will be held on May 28th at 10am (Pacific)/1pm (Eastern). Details about the webinar and a link for how to login to the session are available at the TechAtlas site. Hope to see you there and at our events in the future!
When I tell people that part of my job at TechAtlas is to introduce libraries to the idea of writing and developing technology plans – I sometimes get some painful looks. I know, I know, technology planning definitely isn’t the glamorous side of library work (whatever that side might be), BUT it so truly important and I believe that good planning helps to build good libraries. And I’m pretty much a geek at heart and I love what I do. Hopefully I get to reach people that are ready to invest in the future of their library by carving out some time for planning.
This past Tuesday I was fortunate to spend the day with a group of librarians at the Texas Library Association Conference who came to spend the whole day learning about technology planning and how TechAtlas can help them work through the steps. I co-presented with Tine Walczyk from the Texas State Library and Archives and it was really a great experience for me to get to train with her. She brought up some great points for libraries to keep in mind as the work through the planning process.
So thanks to all of the attendees in Texas and I hope that you enjoyed the session!
The MaintainIT Project is producing a series of free monthly 30-minute webinars focused on topics from the Cookbooks and designed to get you started on a project today. Join the webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, April 16, 1-1:30 pm Central Time (11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern) for Notes from a Laptop Checkout Program focusing on the experiences of Be Astengo and her colleagues from the Alachua County Library District in Gainesville, FL. Find out how ACLD turned a good idea into a successful laptop checkout program, and be sure to share your experiences, too.
Let’s take a break from all this PLA action for a quick Question of the Week, shall we? Can anyone in the community share a policy or best practices for patron scanner use? WebJunction member phenley has found resources on what type of scanner to purchase, but needs some related policy and/or training tips.
“We have a scanner for staff (actually in my office, and I’m usually the only one to use it) but would like to put it out for the public, since we do get a few requests. So my question: if you offer scanning for the public, does staff do it, or is the scanner out and available for anyone to use? Do people seem to be able to manage, or does staff usually have to help?“
Please share you best practices, pitfalls, or other comments either in the original discussion or here in the blog as a comment. As always, if you have if you’ve got a question you want to ask the WebJunction community or you see a good question coming in, please post it in the Question of the Week topic.
Does anyone have thoughts to share about creating a program to make wireless laptops available for patron checkout? This question was originally asked by intlfallsdiane in May:
“Our library is hoping to have four wireless equipped laptop computers available for patrons to borrow in the library. …
“… Is anyone else checking out computers for library use? Is anyone willing to share their circulation policies?”
“My library is also in process of circulating laptops. I am also curious to find out circulating polices for laptops in public libraries. “
As laptop prices continue to plummet and wireless access moves closer to ubiquity, this seems like a service many libraries may try. Please respond to this question in the discussion boards or here, in the blog, as a comment.
That’s the problem the TechAtlas team is trying to figure out and we need help from our friends in Libraryland.
With help from consultants (and technology planning gurus- they literally wrote the book) Sandra Nelson and Diane Mayo, we are assessing ways in which WebJunction and TechAtlas can provide tools that would make the technology planning and approval process for E-rate applications easier. As a part of this study, we are soliciting input from libraries on why they do or don’t have technology plans, why they do or don’t apply for E-rate funds, and what tools might make the whole process easier. Please take a few minutes to complete a brief survey about your library’s technology planning environment. The survey should only take about 10 minutes to complete.
Even if you don’t have a technology plan or don’t apply for E-rate, we need to hear from you. The results and suggestions collected from this survey can really help to shape the tools that WebJunction offers to libraries that need to write technology plans.