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Dear Colleagues,

I am forwarding an important message for school and public librarians that
I received on WEB4LIB:

Peter Milbury,   530-891-3036
Librarian-Mentor Teacher      http://www.cusd.chico.k12.ca.us/~pmilbury
Chico High School, Chico, CA 95926     http://dewey.chs.chico.k12.ca.us

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Libraries and the Digital Divide

For Immediate Release
July 8, 1999

Press Contacts: 202-606-8339

Mamie Bittner mbittner@imls.gov

Washington, DC - Today the U.S. Department of Commerce released Falling
Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide.  The report finds that the
while the number of Americans connected to the nation's information
infrastructure is soaring, a digital divide exists and is widening. The
report finds that minorities, low-income persons, the less educated, and
children of single parent households, particularly when they reside in rural
areas or central cities, are among the groups that lack access to
information resources. The report calls for public policies and private
initiatives to expand affordable access to critical information resources.

One of the solutions can be found at the school and public library.  The
report notes that "community access centers" such as libraries, schools and
other public access points play an important role. The 1998 data demonstrate
that community access centers are particularly well used by those groups who
lack access at home or at work.  A PDF version of the report is available at

All types of libraries including public and school libraries are supported
by a new program recently funded by Congress:  The Library Services and
Technology Act (LSTA).  Two main goals of LSTA are information access
through technology and targeting the underserved.  The Institute of Museum
and Library Services administers LSTA which was funded at $163,275,000 in FY
1999.  IMLS makes grants to state libraries, supports Native American and
Native Hawaiian library services, and holds a national competition for
National Leadership Grants.

Beverly Sheppard, Acting Director of the Institute of Museum and Library
Services noted, "This study affirms the outstanding job libraries are doing
throughout the country.  They are innovators providing access and know how
to bridge the digital divide."

Excerpt from Falling Through the Net:  Defining the Digital Divide:

Access At Public Libraries and Community Centers
Many Americans who obtain Internet access outside the home rely on such
places as public libraries (8.2%) and community centers (0.6%). (Public
libraries, in particular, are used by certain groups with some regularity.
Unemployed persons who access the Internet outside their homes are nearly
three times more likely to use public libraries as the national average
(21.9% versus 8.2) Those Americans who are "not in the labor force," such as
retirees or homemakers, are twice as likely to use the public libraries for
access (16.1%). Both groups are even more likely to use public libraries in
urban, as opposed to central city or rural, areas (22.8% and 17.9%,

(MORE)Other groups that also use public libraries more frequently include
those earning less than $25,000 (those with less than a high-school
education (those in female-headed households and American
Indians/Eskimos/Aleuts, Blacks, and Hispanics. Of these groups, American
Indians/Eskimos/Aleuts are especially likely to use libraries in urban areas
(17.3%), while Blacks are more likely to use libraries in rural areas
(16.3%). Those in female-headed households are also more likely to gain
Internet access in libraries in central cities (16.4%).

Using a logistic regression analysis, we also compared the likelihood of a
group's using public libraries or community centers for online access. Our
analysis pertained only to those people who reported usage of the Internet
from outside the home. This regression analysis revealed the additional
interesting comparisons:
*       Those earning less than $20,000 who use the Internet outside the
home are two times more likely (2.12 times) to get their access through a
public library or community center than those earning more than $20,000.
*       Blacks using the Internet outside the home are nearly two times more
likely (1.91 times) to use a public library or a community center as Whites.
"Other non-Hispanic" minorities (including Asians/Pacific Islanders,
American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts) are 1.24 times more likely to use
these resources as Whites.
*       People without home computers are almost 1.5 times more likely than
people with home computers to get outside access to the Internet through
public libraries or community centers.
*       People without college degrees are also significantly (1.4 times)
more likely to use public libraries or community centers for their outside
Internet access than those who have earned a college degree.

These findings support our general conclusion that those who are less likely
to have Internet access at home or work (e.g., those earning less than
$20,000, certain minorities, and those without a college degree) are relying
on the resources of public facilities.

Examples of how libraries use IMLS funds to close the digital gap:

Establishing Internet Access:

Hualapai Tribe, Arizona
Prior to receiving this grant, the Tribe did not have any computers for
public use on the reservation.  The grant funds were used to establish a
small computer lab in the library for community use.  Students from five
surrounding schools use the computers for school work; adults use the
library and computers to enhance their employability skills and for
research.  In addition, the library installed basic skills lessons and
tutorials on the computers, as well as a GED program.  All of these
resources benefit the tribe's population in many ways.

DelAWARE:  The Digital Library of the First State, Delaware
DelAWARE, which was developed by the State Library, ensures that all
citizens of Delaware have access to library information services and the
Internet regardless of geographic location or economic circumstance.
DelAWARE provides a variety of statewide online products and services,
including more than 1,800 full text magazines,  journals, and newspapers;
State of Delaware government information; a subject guide to selected
Internet sites; and links to all types of Delaware libraries.  Located at
www.lib.de.us, DelAWARE is available through tens of thousands of library,
home, workplace, and school computers in Delaware and is heavily used -
recording more than 235,000 users and more than 1.5 million hits in 1998

Muncie Public Library Cybermobile, Indiana
The public library cooperated with several local organizations - including
Ball State University, area schools, the City of Muncie - to expand
technology access to persons who are unable to easily travel to their local
library.  A high technology van was outfitted to offer computer training and
on-line resources through regularly scheduled stops throughout the
community.  Efforts were made to target inner-city and rural residents,
children, and the disabled.  This project was developed as a logical
offshoot of the traditional Bookmobile, and demonstrated to the library
world the need to expand technology access.

Public Library Internet Project, South Carolina
Since 1997, the South Carolina State Library has been involved in a project
designed to bring public Internet access to every public library in the
state.  Through a combination of state and federal funds, the State Library
provided technical support to libraries, assisting them with hardware and
telecommunications specifications, guidance in drafting Internet use
policies, and training.  State and federal funds were made available to
purchase the necessary telecommunications hardware and the access to the
Internet.  When the project began, only 25% of the 39 public library systems
in the state had Internet connections - now, all South Carolina public
library sites have Internet access, which gives library patrons an immensely
expanded wealth of information resources to utilize.

Targeted Services:

Homework Centers, Public Library of Des Moines, Iowa
With this grant, electronic homework centers were created at the six
branches of the Public Library of Des Moines to demonstrate how libraries
can support the formal education needs of students.  Each site received a
package of CD-ROMs including maps, 20th century current events, science,
animals, and encyclopedias; a core set of printed reference materials; and
access to helpful Internet sites.  The Homework Centers were then set up to
allow for quick and easy use by students.  Library staff encourages teachers
to advise them of upcoming assignments so that library resources can be
ready and available.  The homework centers have been very popular, and
heavily used by students of all ages.

Computer Training Centers, New Jersey
The New Jersey State Library awarded grants in the amount of $20,000 each of
ten libraries across the state to create computer training centers.  As
information is increasingly available in electronic formats, there is a need
to ensure that all library users have the skills necessary to effectively
use computers and search for information on electronic databases and the
Internet.  These grants supported the purchase of a half-dozen PCs for the
computer training center, and the presentation of multiple computer training
courses per month on a variety of topics.  Nearly 140,000 patrons were
served by the ten libraries receiving the grants.

Rural Access to Job Information, Pioneer Library System, New York
The Pioneer Library System covers four primarily rural counties with 41
branch libraries.  This project established job information centers in 13
libraries in all four counties.  At the job information center, patrons can
search Internet job sites, New York State Department of Labor information,
and access software, books, and videos to help prepare resumes, cover
letters, and for interviews.  The project forged links between library staff
and the regional state-sponsored Workforce Development System, which is
important in future partnerships as the federal Workforce Investment Act is
implemented in New York State.   In addition, the NY State Department of
Labor wants to encourage the use of libraries as centers for labor market
information--the 1,000 public libraries in all parts of New York State are
ideal public access points for DOL information.  This project is a model for
cost-effective partnerships in this area, and will be replicated around the

Davis Homes Library Branch, Morristown, Tennessee
The C. Frank Davis Homes Housing Project in Morristown is located in an area
with subsidized housing, a Title I elementary and middle school, and a high
school with high dropout rates.  To assist poor families in desperate need
of educational resources, the county opened a branch library in this
neighborhood.  The library is housed in a building with many other local
community service organizations - a police substation, the DARE program, the
local Housing Authority, and an Americorps project office.  The new library
branch has computers, educational software, library materials to supplement
homework assignments, GED and job search materials, and more. The branch has
proved very popular, with students always reading, working on the computers,
or studying with volunteer tutors.

About IMLS -- IMLS was created by the Museum and Library Services Act of
1996, P.L. 104-208.  IMLS is an independent federal grantmaking agency that
fosters leadership, innovation, and a lifetime of learning by supporting
museums and libraries.  For more information, including guidelines contact :
Institute of Museum and Library Services, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20506,  http://www.imls.gov


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