Wednesday, September 12, 2007

PCs and Libraries

The headline for this article, Despite Demand, Libraries Won't Add PCs, is a bit misleading as the problem seems not to be that they won't add more PCs, but that they can't because they don't have room, the wiring is inadequate, or they just don't have enough money.

A new study from the American Library Association, scheduled for release Wednesday, finds the average number of public Internet terminals largely unchanged since 2002, yet only 1 in 5 libraries say they have enough computers to meet demand at all times.

I see this in both academic and in public libraries. The computers are always in use and, where it's allowed, people signed up waiting to use them. Often there are time limits for use.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of the libraries say they are the only source of free Internet access in their communities, increasing pressure on them to meet demand.

And the problem isn't only access but speed. Many web pages are interactive and not just text based. They have images, sound, and videos which requires a higher speed to access. The good news is that more libraries are going to wireless networking and that will help those who own laptops or have libraries where they can check one out for use. But again, we come back to the money issue.