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The ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Institute at Florida State University this week published “Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2007-2008” (www.ala.org/plinternetfunding). The current report updates and adds to data from the 2006-2007 study, including technology expenditures, available IT support, wireless access and public access computer time limits and management. State-level data summaries also are included.
What's new this year?
• Libraries reported double-digit growth in online services: audiobooks and podcasts (up 33 percent), video (up 32 percent), homework resources (up 15 percent), e-books (up 13.5 percent) and digitized special collections (up almost 13 percent);
• Funding data indicate libraries are relying more on non-tax funding sources;
• Almost two-thirds of all public libraries now provide 1.5Mbps or faster Internet access speeds, with a continuing disparity between urban (90 percent) and rural libraries (51.5 percent);
• Staffing levels aren't keeping pace with patron demand -- both for those staff who provide direct patron service and who maintain the IT infrastructure; and
• While the number of Internet computers available to the public climbed for the first time in several years, one in five libraries report there are consistently fewer computers than are needed by patrons.
The study offers the most current data available on technology access and funding in U.S. public libraries. View the report at www.ala.org/plinternetfunding, or buy a bound copy through the ALA Store, www.alastore.ala.org/.