One of the things I’ve always appreciated about the Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study (and its earlier incarnations) is how it paints a landscape of the successes and challenges libraries encounter in deploying and sustaining technology infrastructure and resources on behalf of the millions of Americans we serve.
The study covers a lot of ground – ranging from the number of available public computers to barriers to improving bandwidth speeds to specialized Internet-based services ranging from e-government to e-books – complemented by qualitative research from interviews with library directors and survey responses from state library agencies.
Because there is so much information stuffed into the study report, the research team has been working to share “bite size” portions of the data and/or place our findings into a larger context with issues briefs (and more issues briefs), templates and maps.
I would like to call out the maps, in particular, because we’ve just added three new ones: WiFi availability, patron technology training and e-book offerings by state (in addition to library support for job seekers and e-government).
Our hope is that these resources make it easier for local public libraries and state libraries to use and share the data with others. Please – “steal” these resources! You can use the maps to illustrate how libraries in your state are leading the pack (Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia libraries were most likely to report offering e-books, for example) or to show how libraries may be lagging their peers in some areas. (I used an earlier version of the job resources map in our presentation at the National Association of Counties conference.)
What maps, mapping or infographics would you like to see in the future? If you’ve created visuals or maps using our data, we’d love to hear about that, too.
p.s. We can only create these materials because thousands of public libraries participate in the study every year. If you haven’t responded to the 2010-2011 national public library survey yet, please do!