Impacts of public access to the internet and ICT in libraries: reviewing recent evidence
09 December 2021
A new working draft by IFLA and Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) explores insights about the uses and benefits of public access in libraries, emerging from recent reports and studies from different parts of the world, and the methodologies available for assessing these.
Over the past decades, public access to the internet, computers and other ICTs in libraries has continued to grow. In parallel, the body of evidence around the impacts of such access – documented and reflected in studies, reports and publications – continues to expand. A new working draft by IFLA and EIFL, prepared within the framework of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in libraries, takes stock of the evidence presented in publications, studies and reports published over the past few years:
- Who are the users of public access in libraries – and what user groups are more likely to rely on it as their main or only source of connectivity?
- For what activities and tasks is public access used – and what are the outcomes and impacts of these uses?
- What do the impacts and demand for library-based digital skills training and support look like today?
- What value-added services does public access enable – and what are the impacts of these?
The second part of the draft looks at the wide diversity of methods employed to examine and capture the impacts of public access. It outlines and gives examples of:
- Data collection capturing the perspectives of public access providers, both qualitative and quantitative;
- Data collection capturing the experiences of public access users, both qualitative and quantitative;
- Some ways of assessing the economic value of public access in libraries;
- Methods aiming to capture perspectives and views on public access in libraries among the general population and non-users.
This is a working draft created with the aim of igniting and encouraging a dialogue, learning and exchange. DC-PAL welcomes your insights, perspectives, feedback and comments! Has your library – or a library you know of – also carried out work to measure the impacts of its public access services? Are there any questions you’d like to raise or experiences to share? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!
We look forward to continuing the conversation around the benefits and positive externalities that public access in libraries generates.
A working draft prepared by IFLA, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) and the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries provides an overview of the recent evidence around the impacts of public access in libraries in different countries and regions, and of quantitative and qualitative m...