National Survey of Public Library Funding and Technology Access – Why Bother?

Hello Everyone,

Annually we ask you to participate in the National Survey of Public Library Funding and Technology Access (it’ll roll around again in September.) You may wonder who uses this data and to what end? Here is some information for you that John Carlo Bertot, the survey administrator, has provided on the value of this information:

Study Results

If you are interested in seeing the full results of the study, there are a few resources I would point you to:

  • ALA’s Libraries Connect Communities digital supplement (available at http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/4673a369). This provides a nice summary of the entire study, has selected state data, and also key survey data.
  • The full survey report (available at http://plinternetsurvey.org/sites/default/files/publications/2012_plftas.pdf). This has all the survey data, including more granular data at the state level than appears in the digital supplement).
  • Survey executive summary (available at http://plinternetsurvey.org/sites/default/files/publications/2012_plftasexecutivesummary.pdf). This is a high level and more graphical presentation of selected survey data.

Products You and Your Libraries Can Use

We have worked to create a host of data-based items that you and your libraries can use for advocacy purposes. Some of these include:

  • State Data/Handouts. If you go to our website (www.plinternetsurvey.org) you will see a YOUR STATE box. For any states that we have data (most all), you can head to your individual state page for:
  • a Summary of PLFTAS data that you can generate as a PDF handout
  • Leg Day overview (Maryland’s as an example: http://plinternetsurvey.org/pdf/legday_states_2012/ALA_LegDay-MD.pdf — a 2-sided handout we created for Leg Day that is about both libraries in each state and some selected PLFTAS data)
  • Issue briefs – we have 5. These are 4-page briefs in the areas of Broadband, Community Access, Digital Literacy, E-government, and Employment (an example: http://www.plinternetsurvey.org/sites/default/images/Briefs/EgovBrief2012.pdf)
  • Sample op-ed templates, press releases, press kits, and more — all in the Data in Action section of the ALA study website at http://www.ala.org/research/initiatives/plftas/data_in_action
  • infographics. ALA created some great ones! You can access them all (in high resolution) for use in a host of ways at http://ipac.umd.edu/news-and-events/us-public-libraries-weather-storm

How We’ve Been Using the Data

I always get questions about how we use the data in real ways. At the national level, we make extensive use of the data in the policy arena. Some examples include:

  • Working with NTIA on mapping library broadband. If you have gone and tried to use the National Broadband Map (http://www.broadbandmap.gov/) you likely noticed just how poorly libraries show up in the map. NTIA is working on this with us, ALA, and others. We did an extensive study using PLFTAS and NBM data to compare and help NTIA. The net result is that there will be an extensive focus on correctly mapping public libraries. You can see our report at http://ipac.umd.edu/Files/CAI_NBM_final_15May2012.pdf
  • Working with the FCC on digital literacy issues. They are very interested in public library training data as they continue to improve the http://www.digitalliteracy.gov/ portal, but also as part of the National Broadband Plan.
  • We are working with USCIS (immigration), the IRS, and other federal agencies regarding public libraries and their roles in providing e-government services. IMLS has funded us to work on partnerships with these agencies to help public libraries as providers of e-government services. Our prototype website is at http://libegov.org/. We are still building the site; it’s not set to launch until the fall. More information on that project is available at http://ipac.umd.edu/our-work/egovernment-partnerships

I hope this will help to explain why we collect this data, and give you some incentive to participate in this year’s survey. This is valuable information for all public libraries.

Rob Geiszler
Library Development Consultant
Vermont Department of Libraries
271 North Main Street
Rutland, VT 05701
rob.geiszler@state.vt.us

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