March 25, 2010

One-Third of Americans Use Library Computers

The Associated Press has reported that one third of Americans 14 and older (about 77 million people) use public library computers to look for jobs, connect with friends, do their homework and improve their lives, according to a new study released March 25. The study, conducted by the University of Washington and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that library use by the general public is widespread and that one in four Americans use public library computers while traveling.

The researchers were intrigued to find that people across all age and ethnic groups used library computers, said Michael Crandall, one of the principal authors of the study and chairman of the Master of Science in Information Management at the University of Washington Information School.

Some of the findings were surprising, Crandall said. "In the health area, over 80% of the users said they made a change in their diet after using library computers," he reported. The most unexpected finding is that two out of three people who use library computers said they are using the computers to help friends or family, such as scanning job databases or looking up information for others. "In terms of library services, we're deeply undercounting," he said, referring to the others benefiting from library computer searches conducted on their behalf.

Troy Public Library patrons were among the 45,000 able to participate in the
on-line survey last May through the library's website.

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