Public libraries connecting people for development: Findings from the Global Impact Study

Abstract

Public libraries play a critical role in extending the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to a diverse range of people worldwide. However, their ability to contribute to development agendas has come into question in recent times. The Global Impact Study was designed to address this debate by generating evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access ICTs in multiple countries across different venue types. Using data from Botswana, Chile, and the Philippines, this report summarizes the study’s key findings with a focus on libraries, situating these venues in the context of national development, discussing some disputed issues, and providing recommendations for policymakers, library practitioners, and researchers. The results show that a central impact of public libraries is promoting digital inclusion, information access, and development of ICT skills through technology provision, particularly for marginalized populations and those who face challenges using and benefiting from computers and the internet. The data also suggest a number of library characteristics that are important to users and provide a unique public value, with both users and non-users reporting positive impacts and a willingness to pay to maintain the existence of public libraries.

Recommended Citation

Sey, A., Coward, C., Rothschild, C., Clark, M., and Koepke, L. (2013). Public libraries connecting people for development: Findings from the Global Impact Study. Seattle: Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School.