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2013 Digital Inclusion Survey Results Published

Tuesday, July 22nd 2014
Digital Inclusion Report Published
Explore How Libraries Build Digitally Inclusive Communities

Digital Inclusion Survey Issue Briefs Now Available

Tuesday, July 22nd 2014
Digital Inclusion issue briefs
Digital Inclusion Issue Briefs Published
Topics Include Broadband, Employment, E-government, and More

Interactive Map

New interactive map includes all U.S. libraries
Our data visualization tool includes Digital Inclusion Survey data from all participating libraries

Digital Inclusion Survey


Rotating Quotes

Robert J. O'Neill, Jr.

Be it helping residents continue their educations, find jobs, improve their career skills, access e-government services, research health information, or connect with family and friends, libraries play an essential role in helping local government meet their greatest challenges by connecting their services to critical community priorities. Partnering with ALA and the University of Maryland on this project will help bring greater understanding and awareness on the role of libraries on the critical issue of digital inclusion.

Robert J. O'Neill, Jr.
Executive Director
International City/County Management Association

Andrea Berstler

Libraries thrive on relevant, current information. The ability to analyze current data as a means of forecasting the future needs of a community or an organization is a major tool utilized by libraries across the county in the work of staying relevant and timely. For small and rural libraries, this struggle is all the more difficult. Lack of resources, time and access to quality data creates an information vacuum where directors and boards make decisions based on incomplete or outdated facts. By being able to access the information from a project built with the resources of ALA and the University of Maryland, small and rural libraries across the country will have proven information for making crucial decisions about the future needs of their communities and how libraries can work to successfully bridge the digital divide.

Andrea Berstler
Past President
Association for Rural & Small Libraries

Ann Joslin

Our libraries are at the heart of building digitally inclusive communities, and this new survey will help us demonstrate this to our key stakeholders,” said COSLA President Ann Joslin. “I’m excited that new interactive tools will make it easier to connect library and community data like library workforce services and local unemployment rates, library digital literacy initiatives and local graduation rates, and other community demographics. The new survey places libraries in a community context that will make it easier to identify gaps in our services and demonstrate the impacts of our technology resources.

Ann Joslin
Documenting the impact of public libraries in the digital age is more important than ever

The ubiquity of the Internet poses challenges and opportunities for individuals and communities alike. These challenges and opportunities, however, are not evenly distributed across or within individuals and communities. Equitable access to and participation in the online environment is essential for success in education, employment, finance, health and wellness, civic engagement, and a democratic society. And yet, communities and individuals find themselves at differing levels of readiness in their ability to access and use the Internet, robust and scalable broadband, a range of digital technologies, and digital content.

Research from the Public Library Funding & Technology,1Opportunity for All,2 and Pew Internet3 studies show that libraries are vital digital hubs that provide access to public access technologies and digital content, and that millions of people rely on the public access technologies and services provided by public libraries. When taken together, these studies also show that success in an increasingly digital social and economic context requires a comprehensive approach to creating digital inclusion so as to ensure that there is opportunity for all communities and individuals regardless of geographic location, socio-economic status, or other demographic factors.

Digital inclusion brings together high-speed Internet access, information and communication technologies, and digital literacy in ways that provide opportunities for individuals and communities to succeed in the digital environment. More specifically, digital inclusion means that:

  • All members understand the benefits of advanced information and communication technologies.
  • All members have equitable and affordable access to high-speed Internet-connected devices and online content.
  • All members can take advantage of the educational, economic, and social opportunities available through these technologies.

But digital inclusion also encompasses the ability of individuals to use digital technologies, create content, and more fully engage in an increasingly digital life. The study builds on the work conducted by IMLS, ICMA, and the University of Washington in developing a Digital Inclusion Framework, and serves as a complement to the IMLS Public Library Survey that collects data (e.g., bugdget, FTE) about public libraries annually.

Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and conducted by the American Library Association (ALA), the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland, and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), this study conducts a national survey of public libraries that explores the digital inclusion roles of public libraries in four key areas:

  • Public access technology infrastructure resources and capacity (e.g., public access workstations; broadband connectivity).
  • Digital content, services, and accessibility.
  • Digital literacy (including languages in which instruction is offered).
  • Domains-specific services and programs (civic engagement, education, health and wellness, and workforce/employment).

Participation in the survey is critical to demonstrating the significant impacts that public libraries have in building digitally inclusive communities, and will enable libraries to:

  • Identify the impacts of public computer and Internet access on the community.
  • Show library public access technology services in terms of key community demographics.
  • Identify gaps in public access technology services based on community needs.
  • Demonstrate library contributions to community digital inclusion efforts.
  • Support efforts to inform and educate stakeholders – policymakers, foundations, elected officials, trustees, and the media – about the value of libraries in building digitally inclusive communities.


1 Hoffman, Judy, John Carlo Bertot, and Denise M. Davis. (2012).  Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2011-2012. Digital supplement of American Libraries magazine.

2 Becker, Samantha, Michael D. Crandall, Karen E. Fisher, Rebecca Blakewood, Bo Kinney, and Cadi Russell-Sauvé. (2011). Opportunity for All: How Library Policies and Practices Impact Public Internet Access (IMLS-2011-RES-01). Institute of Museum and Library Services. Washington, D.C.

3 Zickuhr, Kathryn, Lee Rainie, and Kristen Purcell. (2013). Library Services in the Digital Age. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Washington, DC.


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