Study One Third Of Americans Utilize Library Computers

03.26.10 | FL News Team

Adding computers to public libraries has transformed the community resource into a "critical digital hub." That's the conclusion of a newly released study from the University of Washington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study says about 77 million people nationwide, a third of adult Americans, make use of computers in public libraries. The public computers are used by many as a social connection with 60-percent of library patrons using the machines to stay in touch with family and friends. Education is second with 42-percent of library computer users doing research for education or to help them achieve educational goals.

 Among the teen set, 42-percent of those aged 14-to-18 say they use library computers to do schoolwork. Thirty-million-people nationwide used public computers for employment or career purposes. Seventy-six-percent use them to search for jobs, more than half say they've submitted an application online and 46-percent used library computers to spiff up their own resumes. Rounding out the top five uses of library computers are health and wellness and government or legal.

 The Washington University study says libraries have become a silent partner in workforce development, educational achievement, health information delivery and bringing government services to citizens. The report recommends state and local governments make sure libraries are included in any broadband deployment strategies. The study was based on nearly 50-thousand surveys from patrons of more than 400 public libraries nationwide. The entire study titled "Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries" is available at the Gates Foundation website, GatesFoundation.org.