1 in every 5 adults in America lives in a home with either no computer or no internet connection.
That’s tens of millions of people according to the Census Bureau.
For many of them, the local library is filling a huge digital gap. Many are evolving to become public digital centers.
– Virtually all libraries (98 percent) offer free public Wi-Fi access;
– 95 percent of libraries offer summer reading programs to forestall the “summer slide” in reading achievement experienced when learning takes a holiday between school terms;
– Close to 90 percent of libraries offer basic digital literacy training, and a significant majority support training related to new technology devices (62 percent), safe online practices (57 percent) and social media use (56 percent);
– 76 percent of libraries assist patrons in using online government programs and services;
– The vast majority of libraries provide programs that support people in applying for jobs (73 percent), access and using online job opportunity resources (68 percent) and using online business information resources (48 percent);
– A significant majority of libraries host social connection events for adults (61 percent) and teens (60 percent) such as book discussion groups or gaming programs;
– 45 percent of libraries provide early-learning technologies for pre-K children; and
– More than one-third of all libraries provide literacy, GED prep, STEAM and afterschool programs.
1 in 5 public libraries has renovated buildings in the past five years, and two-thirds of all libraries upgraded technology infrastructure in the past 24 months. The most common renovations were to upgrade electrical or network capacity and enhance or add general spaces in the library.
But not every library in the country is making this transition into the digital age as fast as others.