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A new report finds America’s public libraries posted gains in several key areas of technology deployment. Libraries nationwide report they’ve seen an increase in public use of online services, particularly to support job seeking and e-government transactions, and have made some gains in adding public computers and improving Internet connections available to patrons. However, snowballing funding cuts at state and local levels are forcing thousands of libraries to literally lock away access to these resources as they reduce operating hours.
The national 2010 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study provides data on job and career resources, as well as tracking a significant jump in e-government use. From unemployment benefits to state tax forms, more government information and services are moving online, often without a print alternative. Responding to growing demand from people for assistance using these new forms of government services, nearly 79 percent of libraries (up from 54 percent one year ago) provide assistance to patrons applying or accessing government services, according to the report released by the American Library Association (ALA).
The economic recession has placed libraries at the forefront for today’s job seekers. Eighty-eight percent of libraries provide free access to job databases and other job services, and 67 percent report library staff helped patrons complete online job applications. Libraries also provide access to civil service exam materials (75 percent) and software to help patrons create resumes and other employment materials (69 percent). Many more similar statistics are also listed in the study.
This study was conducted by the ALA and the Center for Library & Information Innovation at the University of Maryland and features the most current national and state data available on technology access and funding in U.S. public libraries. The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the ALA.
LibraryPR@list.in.gov is an open discussion list dedicated to library professionals who specialize in public relations, communications, marketing and outreach at their library. The LibraryPR listserv will give marketing professionals the opportunity to share ideas, resources, and strategies for increasing public awareness of libraries programs and services, offer best practices and success stories, receive updates on regional and statewide partnership opportunities and outreach initiatives, and learn more about upcoming marketing workshops and professional development opportunities. Members are also encouraged to post press releases and news clips, as well as share new community outreach initiatives.
While this list was created with the full-time library marketing professional in mind, library directors, associate directors and other professional staff who manage your library's daily PR activities are also invited to join. To sign up for LibraryPR or any other statewide library listervs, visit the Indiana State Library's listserv homepage.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently awarded more than $62.5 million in federal stimulus funding through its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to a group of national research and education networking organizations including Indiana University. The group proposes the construction of the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN), an advanced 100 Gigabit per second network backbone that will link regional networks across the nation.
U.S. UCAN’s coast-to-coast advanced infrastructure will connect America's community anchor institutions, including public schools and libraries, into a national network with next-generation capabilities such as telemedicine and distance learning. The network will be accessible in areas previously considered too remote or economically depressed to support advanced network services. U.S. UCAN has already connected 66,000 community anchors through partnerships across public and private sectors and will prepare Americans—now and in the future—to compete successfully in an increasingly competitive global economy.
“The importance of this project to expand high performance network work access to thousands of additional sites, especially in rural and underserved areas, cannot be underestimated,” said I.U. Associate Vice President for Networks Dave Jent in a recent news release. “These new capabilities will be key in our country’s economic recovery and sustainability, and will allow us a greater competitive advantage on a global scale.”
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