First-ever National Study: Millions of People Rely on Library Computers for Employment, Health and Education. Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older - roughly 77 million people - used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released last week. In 2009, as the nation struggled through a recession, people relied on library technology to find work, apply for college, secure government benefits, learn about critical medical treatments, and connect with their communities.
The report, Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, is based on the first, large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. It was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
-Low-income adults are more likely to rely on the public library as their sole access to computers and the Internet than any other income group. Overall, 44 percent of people living below the federal poverty line used computers and the Internet at their public libraries.
-Americans across all age groups reported they used library computers and Internet access. Teenagers are the most active users. Half of the nation's 14- to 18-year-olds reported that they used a library computer during the past year, typically to do school homework.
"People from all walks of life use library computers to perform routine and life-changing tasks, from emailing friends to finding jobs," said Michael Crandall, senior lecturer and chair of the Master of Science in Information Management at the University of Washington Information School. "More than three-quarters of those who used the library Internet connections had access at home, work, or elsewhere. Oftentimes, they needed a faster connection, assistance from a librarian, or temporary access in an emergency."
The use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. In the last 12 months:
- 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with career needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half of these users filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
- 37 percent focused on health issues. The vast majority of these users (82 percent) logged on to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third of these users sought out doctors or health care providers. Of these, about half followed up by making appointments for care.
- 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework for a class.
- Library computers linked patrons to their government, communities, and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users - 43.3 million people - used a library's computer resources to connect with others.
The full report is available at http://tascha.washington.edu/usimpact.
Congratulations to Haines Falls Free Library director Elane Farley and the Haines Falls Board of Trustees, they are the latest member library to score 100% on the MHLS Essential Documents Inventory! This achievement is particularly impressive due to the fact that this association library is in the midst of a major building project and fundraising effort! Learn more about their building project at http://hainesfalls.lib.ny.us/. The Essential Docs Inventory touches on the basics each library should have in place to meet NYS Minimum Standards for Public Libraries including a current long-range plan, report to the community and a full complement of both internal and external policies.
Talking Tech: Technology basics for understanding your library's computer network. This workshop, presented by Robert Drake, MHLS Network Specialist & Laurie Shedrick, MHLS Automated Systems Manager, will be held on Friday, May 7th from 10:00am - 12:00pm in the MHLS Auditorium.
This workshop is appropriate for library directors and all staff who work with the public, public access computers and on staff computers running Millennium.
This workshop is designed to help demystify the computer equipment and wires in your building, boost your confidence when talking to tech support people and save your library money by providing simple troubleshooting techniques that can be done without calling your tech support people. Come and learn how the computers, cables and connections all work together in your library.
In this workshop we will:
- Demystify computer equipment and your library's internal network.
- Share best practices for supporting public access computers.
- Explaining the internet - understanding what the ISP provides.
- Help you create expandable solutions so you can keep up with community demand for hardware, software and increased bandwidth.
- Provide answers to the most common questions received by MHLS Tech Support staff.
Register online through the MHLS calendar at http://calendar.midhudson.org
Help Yourself & Your Patrons! Take advantage of the brief, 5-question online training about some of the neat features and FAQ's regarding OverDrive Downloadable Audiobooks. This can help staff understand the product better and help answer question patrons may ask of you: linked online at midhudson.org or get there directly at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5overdrive
SEAL ILL System Training Workshop
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 from 9:45am - 3:30pm at the Southeastern NY Library Resources Council (21 S. Elting Corners Rd., Highland, NY 12528)
This workshop is designed for interlibrary loan staff of libraries. This workshop is designed to teach library staff how to use the ILL system in SEAL -- Southeastern Access to Libraries for regional electronic interlibrary loan. Using this system, library staff can search for materials, identify library holdings, and place interlibrary loan requests to other libraries in the region online. Libraries also receive requests from other participants and respond to these requests electronically. You can register for this workshop by going to the following web page: http://reg.senylrc.org
About SEAL: Southeastern Access to Libraries comprises the virtual union catalog of the region the electronic interlibrary loan management system. The virtual union catalog includes the online catalogs of the Mid-Hudson and Ramapo Catskill Library Systems, Dutchess, Orange-Ulster, Sullivan and Ulster School Library Systems, Magazines and Journals in the Southeastern region as well as catalogs from the area's college, hospital and special libraries. SEAL is accessed through the Internet at http://seal.senylrc.org Currently, over 200 public, school and academic libraries use SEAL within the Southeastern region. These libraries are members of the Mid-Hudson and Ramapo Catskill public library systems, Dutchess, Orange-Ulster, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster School Library Systems, as well as academic and special libraries in the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council. Libraries that participate in SEAL are borrowers and lenders. Interested libraries should have their holdings available in an online catalog that is accessible through the virtual union catalog in SEAL.
Resource Sharing & Millennium
There is a new email address available to contact the Cataloging Department here at MHLS: firstname.lastname@example.org. Messages will be received by Laurie Shedrick, Karen O'Brien and Kit Kassel. We want to ensure that your request reaches all three staff in the Automated Services & Bibliographic Maintenance Department in case someone is away from their desk. We hope this provides better customer service. Of course, you can still send individual emails to Laurie, Karen and Kit but consider using the new address for the following:
- Record loads for vendors like B&T, Midwest tapes & Brodart
- Report bibliographic record inaccuracies
- Report last system copies
- Report problems with book jackets or other Syndetics displays
- Report broken holds
Member Libraries are welcome to submit items of interest and job openings to the MHLS Bulletin: email@example.com. The MHLS Bulletin is available on line at http://midhudson.org/bulletins/main.htm.