At least 20 percent of people without broadband service at home depend on their local branch of the public library for access to the Internet, reported the Economic and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in a study released last month. This is hardly surprising to anyone who has visited a public library recently.
The New York Public Library's Rose Main Reading Room provides free Internet access.
photo source: bigappleunpeeled.blogspot.com
At almost every branch of the New York Public Library that I've been to in the last ten years, the busiest area was the room with the computers. It was obvious that for many, the library was the only place they could go to use a computer (and thus, access the Internet). A noticeable number seemed to be using the computers to search for jobs and brush up resumes.
So, the fact that for many people, "the public library is the sole source for free access to computers and the Internet" is not really news. The real story is what this means for libraries. In an age where there is still very much a digital divide, the public library is as important as ever to keeping communities connected and thus should be safeguarded as the institution it truly is.
Libraries Connect Communities * November 17, 2011
New Study on Internet Use at Home Ties to the Impact of Libraries
photo source: http://www.ors.ala.org