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User Satisfaction with Access to Government Information and Services at Public Libraries and Public Access Computing Centers

Description

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Initial findings from the national survey of the public's government information needs has been released. January 2008. View the Report. The data collection period for the surveys of libraries and public access computing centers is over. December 2007. About the Research: User Satisfaction with Access to Government Information and Services at Public Libraries and Public Access Computing Centers. In October 2005, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Library Research Center (now CIRSS) a grant to explore how individuals with limited access to Internet resources obtain information about the government and the various services it provides. The principal investigators for the project are Dr. Leigh Estabrook, professor and dean emerita and previous director of the Library Research Center; and Lee Rainie, the founding director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Lauren Teffeau is currently the project coordinator for this project. With the project, IMLS seeks answers to the following questions:
  1. What are user preferences for the means of delivery of federal, state, and local government services and information: A) only online; B) only through traditional means of access (walk-in, mail, telephone); or C) both online and through traditional means?
  2. Where does the part of the population with limited access to online resources go to access government information and services?
  3. What kinds of training, classes, tutorials, and references services (one-on-one, traditional, virtual, or other interactive help mechanisms) do public libraries and public access computing centers provide to assist users in accessing government information and services online and through traditional means of access? What kind of training is available for librarians, educators, and trainers offering the training?
  4. How effective are training, classes, tutorials, and reference services received through public libraries and public access computing centers at increasing the public's information and government media literacy?
  5. To what extent do public libraries and public access computing centers assist the part of the population with limited access to online resources to access government information and services in the following ways: by providing access itself; by increasing general Internet media literacy; and by assisting with access via traditional means?
To answer these questions, a national phone survey, performed by Pew, in coordination with Princeton Survey Research Associates International, will address how individuals with low access to Internet use and obtain federal, state, and local government information and services. Following this, CIRSS will create and administer a series of surveys. The first will be directed to a national random sample of libraries and a universe of public access computing centers concerning what types of assistance they provide users accessing government information and how they evaluate their services. The second survey will be sent to a sample of libraries, LIS education programs, and relevant library associations to obtain information about training for the trainers and service providers in libraries and public access computing centers. Based on the results of these surveys, CIRSS will then be able to identify exemplar libraries and public access computing centers. Case studies will be prepared that analyze how the exemplar library or community technology center teaches and supports users over time. Completion of this project is tentatively scheduled for March 2008. Institute of Museum of Library Services View the project proposal.

Project PI(s)

PI: Carole Palmer
Project Contact: Carole L. Palmer
Funded by: Institute of Museum and Library Services

Research Area(s)

Project Team

Carole L. Palmer (PI)
Virgil E. Varvel Jr. (Project Coordinator)

Publications

Estabrook, L., Witt, E., & Rainie, L. (2007). Information searches that solve problems: How people use the internet, libraries, and government agencies when they need help. (CIRSS Report Pew0701). Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project.
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