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Press Release: American Library Association [July 10, 2024]

New Public Library Technology Survey report details digital equity roles

American Library Association

Chicago, IL -- July 9, 2024. The Public Library Association (PLA) today published the 2023 Public Library Technology Survey report. The national survey updates emerging trends around technology capacity, resources for patrons, infrastructure, digital literacy, and staffing in U.S. public libraries. This data is vital to understand how libraries serve as hubs of knowledge and innovation in our communities and continue to evolve to meet patron needs.

The report addresses questions such as: How are library professionals advancing digital equity in their communities? What types of technology devices do libraries loan to patrons, and are more or fewer libraries offering these items compared to in 2020? What are the primary challenges libraries face in providing technology resources and services?

Key findings include:

  • Almost half of libraries (46.9%) offer hotspots for checkout, an increase of 14.4% from 2020.
  • About a quarter of libraries (24.6%) have digital media production equipment and over one-third (39.5%) have maker production equipment.
  • 95.3% of public libraries offer some kind of formal or informal digital literacy training, and almost 30% report they offer a digital navigator program to assist patrons.
  • Almost one in five (19.7%) libraries are involved in digital equity or inclusion coalitions at the local, state, or regional level.
  • 95% of libraries offer e-books and/or e-audiobooks and 57.5% offer streaming and downloadable media for patrons.
  • Federal funding is critical to supporting library technology needs: almost half (52%) of libraries applied for the E-rate program either individually or as part of a consortium.
  • Subscription costs or payment terms are the top factor influencing libraries' ability to offer digital content (selected by 85.7% of libraries overall).

"The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the deep digital divides that still exist in this country, and PLA's new survey details how libraries continue to adapt and adopt technologies and services to meet evolving community needs," said PLA President Michael Lambert. "Virtually all technology offered in the library—ranging from scanners to assistive technology for people with disabilities to smart objects that support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning—increased from the 2020 survey. Local, state, and federal policy makers should invest in sustaining and expanding these vital library services to expand educational and economic opportunity for all."

PLA invited all U.S. public library administrative entities to complete the survey in fall/winter 2023. In total, 1,511 libraries completed the survey, a response rate of 16.4%. The survey results are weighted to account for differences between responding libraries and the universe of all U.S. public libraries.

The Public Library Technology Survey was first administered in 2020. The survey is the third in a rotating series of three national surveys exploring public library roles, services, and resources to provide actionable data for decision-making and advocacy at the local, state, and national level.

Learn more about the survey results in a free webinar on July 30, 2024. Public libraries can freely access their own responses and contribute to future PLA surveys through the Benchmark platform. To read the full 2023 report and explore other PLA data resources, please visit https://www.ala.org/pla/data/plasurveys.

This week, PLA also is launching new digital literacy funding opportunities and resources for public libraries, powered by a generous $2.7 million contribution from AT&T. More information is available at https://www.ala.org/pla/initiatives/digitalliteracy/incentive.

About the Public Library Association

The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or pla@ala.org.


Summary: The Public Library Association published the 2023 Public Library Technology Survey report. The national survey updates emerging trends around technology capacity, resources for patrons, infrastructure, digital literacy, and staffing in U.S. public libraries. This data is vital to understand how libraries serve as hubs of knowledge and innovation in our communities and continue to evolve to meet patron needs.
Publication Year:2024
Type of Material:Press Release
LanguageEnglish
Date Issued:July 10, 2024
Publisher:American Library Association
Company: American Library Association
Permalink: https://librarytechnology.org/pr/30304/new-public-library-technology-survey-report-details-digital-equity-roles

DocumentID: 30304 views: 241 Created: 2024-07-10 07:16:22 Last Modified: 2024-07-16 07:02:16.