Important Notice for Public Library Directors

Dear Public Library Director:

Please take a few minutes to read this letter about a survey that will give us information about how Vermonters use computers in our public libraries.

I hope that your library will participate in a web survey in conjunction with a nationwide library study being conducted by the University of Washington Information School. The IMPACT study web survey for library patrons is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has been endorsed by the Vermont Department of Libraries. The IMPACT web survey will extend the results from an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) supported study also being conducted by the University of Washington on the impact of public access computing in the lives of library patrons, families, and communities. This information will help public libraries across the U.S. evaluate and improve the ways they provide access to computers and the Internet. You can learn more about the IMPACT studies at: http://impact.ischool.washington.edu.

Over 600 libraries were randomly selected (including 4 libraries in Vermont) for participation but we hope additional libraries will join the survey. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to install a small piece of code on your library’s website that will create a link to the survey website and make it possible for your patrons to fill out the survey online. The Information School will provide you with detailed instructions, technical support, informational materials for patrons, and suggestions for increasing participation. As an incentive for your participation, they will also provide you with a personalized report of the data collected through your library. The web survey will be linked to libraries during assigned two-week periods through June 20.

This is the first nationwide effort to collect information directly from our patrons about how they use public access computing resources. The study will analyze the impact of public access computing in seven key areas: civic engagement, eCommerce, education, eGovernment, health, employment, and social inclusion. The results from this research will help us do our work better by demonstrating the importance of public access computers (PAC) to funders and policymakers and helping us better match our services with the needs of patrons. The project will also help establish the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of web surveys for patron-level library research.

The Vermont Department of Libraries is wholeheartedly behind this project and I urge you to join it! Please contact Samantha Becker, the IMPACT project manager, at srbecker@u.washington.edu with questions or your agreement to participate in the study.

Thank you!

Martha Reid,
State Librarian
Vermont Department of Libraries
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609
802-828-3265
martha.reid@mail.dol.state.vt.us

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