The Ulster County Library Association recently conducted a survey to better understand how our communities use and benefit from free access to computers and the Internet at our libraries. In order to encourage participation, the association offered those who took the time to complete the survey an opportunity to win an iPad Air. The winner of the tablet was Ronald Whiteurs of Rosendale.
Ron was photographed holding a copy of his book containing his poems and other writings that he developed on his many visits to the Rosendale Library. He said he was very grateful for the use of our public computers and all the help the staff there gave him in preparing his book. He will now be putting his new iPad to good use writing more poetry!
The survey revealed that the libraries in Ulster County offer patrons the free use of 174 computers, wireless Internet, and assistance. Of the 661 survey respondents who reported visiting the library in the past year, 74% used a public access computer or the library’s wireless network during their visits.
Highlights from the survey include:
- 29% of public technology users indicated they had used public access technology for employment needs. 21% of users searched for a job online. 17% applied for a job by submitting a resume or filling out an online job application.
- 29% of public technology users used public technology for educational activities. 15% of users completed coursework or homework using public access technology.
- 33% of public technology users used library technology to get information on health and wellness topics. 22% of users reported learning about diet or nutrition; of those, 77% made a change to their diet.
- 37% of public technology users reported using library resources to stay in touch with family and friends and to build and maintain social networks.
63% of public access technology users also received help from a librarian when using the computers or Internet at the library. Of those users, 83% have access to the Internet at home, school, or work but still choose to use the library’s technology. This shows the library offers critical resources and services even as people increasingly have their own Internet connections and devices.
“These are only a few of the impacts from the library’s public technology access and training,” said Cosgrove. “The future of our community depends on the Ulster County public libraries’ ability to sustain the quality technology services that provide opportunities for all people. We must ensure that our libraries get the support they need to make this happen.” He encouraged Ulster County residents to visit their local libraries to see how they can help.