This week the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a new study: “How the Public Perceives Community Information Systems.” A capsule summary reveals that “Studies in three cities show that if people believe their local government shares information well, they also feel good about their town and its civic institutions. Those who are avid information consumers from news media and online sources are more likely to be involved and feel they have impact.”
The survey, which took place in Macon, Philadelphia, and San Jose, measured community perceptions of their local government, and “civic and journalistic institutions ranging from the fire department to the libraries to the local newspaper and TV stations.”
In development of the study, it was noted that one of the key indicators of information systems that performed well was a public library that provides digital resources and professional assistance. It’s no surprise that the library received very favorable ratings in the study.
This unique study has a number of notable findings including that “broadband users and library patrons are more likely than others to feel good about their ability to gather information to meet their needs. Those who have found helpful government information online feel better than others about their own ability to make their communities better.”
But the study also notes that there is sometimes less satisfaction with community life by broadband users. One theory is that upgrades in a local information system might produce more critical, activist citizens. (Surely, many of those involved citizens have utilized their local library’s free internet access to engage with their government and local media.) Be sure to check out this study for more compelling and surprising findings.