Public Benefits from Local Library Internet & Wifi Access

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A recent survey conducted by the University of Washington Information School for the Deschutes Public Library, shows that approximately 40,000 Deschutes County residents use the computers and wireless network at the Library. The survey found that 29 percent of these users were seeking help with career or employment needs, 28 percent used the computers to further their educational goals, and 28 percent accessed computers and Internet connection for civic engagement purposes.

“It was exciting to realize that one person a day found work because of access to technology from the Library,” said Library Director, Todd Dunkelberg. “The survey also showed that people who used the Library computers made positive changes to their diet and exercise habits and others were able to access critical health information. Libraries transform lives in unexpected ways.”

The Deschutes Public Library began offering public access computers in the mid-nineties. Dunkelberg explained that generous funding from the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Deschutes Public Library Foundation, and the Friends of the Library organizations has made it possible for the Library to have 133 computers available for public use and a wireless network.

“We are fortunate to have received funds to support our technology efforts and are able to offer computer labs in our smaller libraries to provide one-on-one tech help, training classes, and other support,” said Dunkelberg. “Training customers on the latest technology has become a critical tool in providing access to people who may not otherwise have the ability or technology on-hand to improve their lives.”

The Deschutes Public Library offers free computer classes in all of our six libraries across Deschutes County.

Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries is based on the first large-scale study of who uses public computers and Internet access in public libraries, the ways library patrons use this free technology service, and how it affects their lives. The study was conducted by the University of Washington Information School and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The survey recently conducted at the Deschutes Public Library is an extension of this research.

The Deschutes Public Library, located in the high desert of Central Oregon serves more than 150,000 Deschutes County residents through libraries in Downtown Bend, East Bend, La Pine, Redmond, Sisters, and Sunriver. The Library’s website provides access to hundreds of resources, magazine articles, downloadable books, from the comfort of home and work. The Library offers free and dynamic cultural programming for all ages to enrich our daily experience and encourage all residents to Know More.

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