March 20, 2018

Libraries Provide Sole Online Access to Two-Thirds of CO Patrons

By LJ Staff

Public libraries in Colorado are bridging the technology gap for “technology have-nots from all walks of life,” according to a study completed in October 2002 and recently released by the state’s Library Research Service. Public libraries provide the only access to the Internet for two-thirds of library patrons. “Colorado Public Libraries & the Digital Divide 2002” reports that the availability of technology in public libraries fulfills a need from all demographic groups. Findings are based on a sample survey of over 1900 patrons of public libraries throughout the state. “The Internet is becoming a primary–in some case, the only access point to a wide variety of government services, educational materials, health resources, communications tools, and commercial activities,” says the report.

Among the findings: 67 percent of respondents have no other access to the Internet except through library computers; 82 percent said the availability of computers was one of the reasons for visiting the library that day; 54 percent use library computers for Internet access more than once a week; and 65 percent of Hispanic patrons rely on library computers because they have no Internet access from home or work. Black and Hispanic library patrons were more likely than others to use public Internet computers to look for jobs or to do school work. “Technology have-nots” are not limited to the under-educated; 44 percent of those who use library computers more than once a week have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 67 percent indicated some college-level coursework.