As the United States continues to experience difficult economic conditions, public libraries continue to provide a significant range of E-government services and resources to its users. The 2010-2011 findings from the Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study (PLFTAS) regarding E-government and job seeking support paints a very active picture of how public libraries have been an important contributor to helping folks access E-government and find job opportunities.
Additional summary and analysis of the PLFTAS data suggests the following key points:
- 90% of public libraries help people understand and use government websites;
- 89% of public libraries report that providing access to government information and services is important to their community;
- 80% of public libraries help people apply for E-government services; and
- 68% of public libraries help people complete E-government forms.
The report summarizing the PLFTAS data goes on to state that while public libraries are heavily engaged in E-government services, the library also faces many challenges – which the report further describes. But oftentimes, the demand for such E-government services outpaces the capacity of the library to meet those demands.
A number of local, state, and federal websites have language similar to that at the US Department of Education (FAQ 7) that directs individuals who do not have a computer to the public library. Indeed, my experience in dealing with E-government services provided by local, state, and federal agencies suggests that many of these agencies regularly refer people for both assistance and computers to their local public library. In short, these agencies regularly promote the use of public libraries for E-government services, in some instances because the agency has inadequate staff to do so itself.
An important resource for assisting libraries with E-government services is an E-government Toolkit developed by the American Library Association (ALA). Another good example is the Pasco County Library System (FL) Online Government Services Website. But a key issue in the provision of E-government services and resources to the public is the library’s ability to meet the demand and cost for these services – many of which are described in the ALA Toolkit or at the Pasco County website.
We’d look forward to hearing the experiences of readers in the provision of E-government services from their libraries – what are some of the critical success factors that need to be in place for successful E-government services? How can libraries best meet these E-government needs given the difficult economic times we have currently? Please offer your comments (“reply”) below to share with others.
We’ll explore these comments, some of the issues raised, critical success factors in the provision of E-government services, and especially consider the costs, benefits, and broadband needs for successful E-government services in the next blog.