Thursday, September 13, 2007

Many libraries overdue for good Internet access

I plan on reading the report highlighted (6mb pdf) in this article -- probably some night when I'm having problems sleeping. But this TulsaWorld article is a good stop gap in the meantime:
Tulsa World Many libraries overdue for good Internet access

YouTube, online job applications and homework help sites have boosted demand and contributed to lines for Internet access at the nation's public libraries, yet a new survey finds the majority have no immediate plans to add computers.

For many library systems, the buildings simply do not have enough room, and their electrical wiring couldn't deliver the required power. Others are already struggling to stay open, buy books and encourage youths to read.
A new study from the American Library Association, scheduled for release Wednesday, finds the average number of public Internet terminals largely unchanged since 2002, yet only one in five libraries say they have enough computers to meet demand at all times.

The survey is one the Oklahoma Department of Libraries participates in, said Susan McVey, executive director.

"It is well done," she said. "I think it is good data. The information in it is similar to the experiences we have had in Oklahoma with demand."

In fiscal year 2006, Oklahoma public libraries had 2,058 public-access stations with about 4.7 million users, McVey said.

Oklahoma recently received $600,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to replace a number of public-access computers, she said.

"We had a pretty significant private gift, but the vast majority of the funding for public libraries comes from the locals," McVey said.

Besides cost, limitations in space, electrical outlets and cabling are cited as the chief factors preventing libraries from buying more computers. Las Vegas officials, for instance, say they reached capacity a few years ago.

"There are times, especially during those peak usage after school and as people get out of work, that you may have to wait an hour, an hour and a half," said Robb Morss, deputy director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of the libraries say they are the only source of free Internet access in their communities. ...
And here's a little more of what some of the data for Oklahoma looks like this:

Oklahoma has 112 public library systems with 206 physical library locations and four bookmobiles to serve almost 2.9 million residents...

EXPENDITURES (library system data)
Total operating expenditures per capita
Oklahoma $23.51
U.S. $30.49

Technology-related expenditures (FY 2006)
Oklahoma $21,848
U.S. $166,181
Download the entire file and go to page 109 if you want to see the full data on Oklahoma.

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