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Nearly every U.S. public library offers free access to computers and the internet, but overall libraries are challenged to provide enough workstations to meet demand, pay for ongoing online connectivity costs, and plan for necessary upgrades to the technology. That's the conclusion of Public Libraries and the Internet 2004: Survey Results and Findings, a report issued in June by the Information Use Management and Policy Institute at Florida State University in Tallahassee (www.ii.fsu.edu) and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Library Association.
The 2004 study queried 6,865 U.S. public library outlets based on poverty, metropolitan status, and state designations, which represents a sample of the total of 16,192 outlets within 4,537 public library systems. The survey was primarily conducted via the Web. Letters and instructions were also mailed to the directors of the sampled libraries. In addition, researchers worked with state data coordinators nationwide to encourage participation. The survey achieved a response rate of 73.2% (5,023 responses) for outlets and 68% (3,084) for systems. The large sample enabled national as well as state (in most cases) projections, in addition to projections based on poverty (calculated based on census data) and metropolitan status (rural, suburban, or urban) categories assigned to each branch and system.
The 2004 study built upon previous studies, data …