Survey shows impact of library Internet access

NEWMARKET, Ontario, February 9, 2015 –

Newmarket Public Library released results of a study called the Impact Survey, which looks at how people in a community use free access to computers and the Internet at the library. The library, which offers 20 workstations, 8 laptops, and wireless Internet, as well as computer help, reports that 57% of those surveyed used a public access computer or the library’s wireless network in the past year.

The most frequently reported use of library computers was for staying in touch with family and friends and for building and maintaining social networks, followed by health and wellness information, employment needs, and educational activities. Several people reported searching for a job online, and three people even said they’d found a new job as a result.

More than two-thirds of library computer users reported that they have access to the Internet at home, school, or work, but still choose to use the library’s technology. But of those who don’t have access elsewhere, more than two-thirds are below the low-income cut-off.

“This shows that library computer access is essential, and more so for disadvantaged people”, said Todd Kyle, library CEO. “Our library’s role is to lead a learning community, and that means helping people get the skills and technology they need to participate in a digital world. The future of our community depends on it.”

The survey, developed by the University of Washington DC, is being piloted for use in Canada by a small number of libraries including Newmarket and Edmonton. View the full report.

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