Libraries pump it up digitally

Libraries increase e-book holdings and IT bandwidth.
By Jeff Tamarkin | Published: July 28, 2014


Newly released survey results show that some 90 percent of American libraries now lend e-books. The Digital Inclusion Survey, conducted by the American Library Association in the Fall of 2013, indicates that that number is up from 76 percent in 2012. The report also states that nearly 100 percent of libraries offer digital readiness programs (see below for details).

For writers, the expanded availability of cost-free digital materials allows for virtually unlimited access to reference and research materials and a no-risk, time-saving means to obtaining them. Additionally, the proliferation of services such as free in-library computers, free wi-fi and technology training allows library-based writers to save money and gain skills.

The survey, which examines national digital trends, collected data from a sample of public libraries at the branch/outlet level nationally in the Fall of 2013.

The survey’s findings were as follows:

  • 98 percent of libraries provide free public access to wi-fi, up from 89% in 2012.
  • 98 percent provide technology training, ranging from internet safety and privacy to coding to using social media.
  • 98 percent provide assistance completing online government forms.
  • 97 percent provide online homework help.
  • 95 percent offer workforce development training programs.
  • 56 percent offer health and wellness programs regarding developing healthy lifestyles.
  • 50 percent offer entrepreneurship and small business development programs.
  • The average number of computers provided by libraries is now 20, up from 16 in 2012.

According to the report, however, the data reflects uneven approaches: Urban libraries are out pacing rural libraries in bandwidth speeds, IT staff and resources to fund digital and online improvements.