National Telecommunications and Information Administration

April 27, 2008 at 6:49 pm (1)

I was just reading through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s survey of Internet use in America, which includes state-by state analysis.  Here are some things that I learned – just over 70% of the households in Washington have access to the Internet in their own home.  Just under 20% do not access the Internet anywhere, leaving just about 10% of the population of Washington to get access to the Internet someplace outside their homes.  I’m thinking in some cases, this other location would be work, but also the library, school, etc.  I wish there was a breakdown on that.  What that amounts to is around 250 thousand households, which i suppose would be about a million people in the state of Washington, for whom the library, among other places, is their only way to access the Internet.  Following on that, there are 2 million more for whom the library could be their initial method of accessing the Internet.  On top of that, I would assume there are quite a few people in the households with Internet access that aren’t using the Internet – I hear this a lot when i’m teaching classes – the kids use it but the parents don’t, etc.  That’s a lot of people in Washington for whom the library can be an incredible resource, with classes, wifi, Internet computers, etc.

The Internet (notice I didn’t say “computers,”) is becoming a standard method of information transfer – not just for individuals, businesses, universities, etc. but also for our government, meaning that a good 20% of the population of our state will have increasing difficulty accessing government information and using government resources.  I think libraries are the best possible way for these people to get the access they need and the skills they need to do the things they need to do, like get an email address, fill in online forms, attach things to emails, find information online and evaluate it for quality.

Just, you know, thinking out loud.


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