To the editor: Wilder Library seeks patrons’ feedback

I want to draw our community’s attention to an important opportunity. Throughout October, the Wilder Memorial Library will be conducting a survey to better understand how our community benefits from free access to computers and the Internet at the library. This information will help the library improve its technology services and communicate the value of providing these services. The Impact Survey is anonymous, available in English and Spanish, and takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

People from all walks of life use library computers to perform routine and life-changing tasks, from emailing friends to finding jobs. A 2009 study conducted by the University of Washington reported that use of library technology had significant impact in four critical areas: employment, education, health, and making community connections. The study revealed that

  • 40 percent of library computer users (an estimated 30 million people) received help with employment needs. Among these users, 75 percent reported they searched for a job online. Half filled out an online application or submitted a resume.
  • 37 percent focused on health issues. 82 percent of these users used the computers to learn about a disease, illness, or medical condition. One-third sought out doctors or health care providers and about half followed up by making appointments for care.
  • 42 percent received help with educational needs. Among these users, 37 percent (an estimated 12 million students) used their local library computer to do homework.
  • Library computers link patrons to their government, communities and civic organizations. Sixty-percent of users – 43.3 million people – used a library’s computer resources to connect with others.

These are the national numbers. But — for the library to meet our community’s technology needs and to demonstrate how providing these services makes a difference — it’s important that we have this information at a local level from our local library patrons. Please support the library and help improve public technology services. Go to the library website to fill out the Impact Survey or access it from one of the library’s public access computers.

Kerri MacLaury
director, Wilder Memorial Library

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